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Top tips on buying from online auctions from the UK's leading online auction site.
3 Mins

How to buy from online auctions

Jess Gibson
Jess Gibson

Buying from an online auction is an exciting experience, where you can find anything and everything, from rare, valuable luxury watches, to pallets of raw customer returns. 

So, something has caught your eye and you would like to make it yours – what now? 

Well, that’s where we can offer you help and provide a few useful tips to keep you ahead of the game. Just read on to find out all you need to know about bidding on items at auction.

Remember to register

First things first, the most important thing for you to do before you can start bidding is to register for the online auction. Prior to buying or selling anything at auction, you need to register and, once you have, you’ll be able to keep track of any items you’re interested in and keep up with ongoing bids.

If you want to be really savvy and on-the-ball, you can register yourself with a singularly set-up email account that helps you to keep up with the auction’s progress and avoids any related emails being put into your spam box.


If you see an item at an online auction that you want to buy, it’s important that you research all the information about the item that you can in advance of bidding. There are a variety of questions you could need answering depending on what type of item it is, but these might include what year was it made, where, and who by? What are the proportions, will it fit in to your home? If it’s a piece of artwork, who is it by, is it signed?

Whilst all lots should have all the relevant detail in their descriptions, don’t be afraid to email us to ask for more information or photos if needed – it’s for your benefit, after all and we're here to help.

Set a limit

Prior to looking at the lots available to bid on, it’s useful for you to decide how much you’re willing to set aside for the purpose, as going in all guns blazing without having done so might mean that you stake more than you can afford when getting carried away in the moment. Although it’s easy to let your heart decide, you should ask yourself what the item is really worth to you.

As well as setting a limit, you should also be aware that once you place a bid you have entered into a contract and are obligated to pay for the goods.

Be aware of the charges

Here at William George we don’t try and hide what your final bill will look like. We aim to be as transparent as possible and display what costs you’ll be facing very clearly, so you won’t be hit by any nasty surprises. Buyer’s Premium is a standard industry term but the amount you’ll pay varies depending on the auction. You’ll always be able to see it when you’re bidding. Some auction houses charge hefty commission and charge for using their services so it’s something to be aware of.   

Eye on the prize

The last piece of advice that we have to give you is to keep a close eye on the deadline if you’ve decided to bid on an item. Whilst the bulk of the auction is likely to move at a slow pace, the last couple of hours can make all the difference, as this is where a flurry of bids are likely to be made. 

The most important thing to remember, however, is to find something you love and to enjoy yourself!   

Now that you're ready to go, have a look at our live auctions and see what you could be bidding on right now.