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A comparison of online auctions versus offline, in-the-room auctions with pros and cons for each.
4 Mins

Online auctions vs in-the-room auctions

Jess Gibson
Jess Gibson

If you’ve been thinking about auctions but aren’t sure whether to go down the in-person route or an online one, we’ve put together the pros and cons of each to help you make your decision. You can see which fits your needs and lifestyle best and then decide on the one you feel ticks all the boxes!



Most online auctions last for extended periods – between 2-3 weeks on average – which means that you can get about your day-to-day business whilst the auction progresses. You can also take time to mull over any purchasing decisions, to do a bit of research and price comparisons to help really weigh up your options, decide how much you’re willing to spend on an item – which can only be beneficial for you when you really think about it!

There’s also the sheer reach you can achieve with an online auction. Available 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, all over the globe, you can sign in at anytime and anywhere you want – meaning you can buy and sell from the comfort of your home (or wherever else you wish!).

Another great bonus about online auctions, especially those here at William George, is that you owe no fees to the auction house if you choose to sell through collective ones. So, essentially, you pay nothing in delivery costs or as commission, and you earn 100% of the hammer price.

If you’re buying through an online auction, all of the related costs and details about the lot are available in writing for you to see, making the entire process completely transparent. You also have the opportunity to look through photos of the item, to identify any faults or flaws, to make a firm decision beforehand. This also means you have time to ask any questions of the seller, which is entirely unique to online auctions!


One of the key strengths of offline auctions is the socialising and service you can expect when face-to-face with other auction-goers and auctioneers. Cups of tea and coffee, biscuits, someone to talk you through any queries you have – if you like the whole process of an in-person auction, these are the things that help really make the whole experience for you.

There’s also something to be said for the excitement you feel being at an in-the-room auction. The butterflies, the adrenaline, the hand itching to thrust your auction paddle in the air! It makes the whole experience a fun one, and you can make a real day of it if you want to.

Whilst having a selection of pictures to view lot items is definitely a good way to get up close and personal with them, here you get to see things in real life and to get that little buzz in your stomach that helps you to make a split-second decision to put in a bid.



As these auctions tend to last for a longer period of time, there’s a lesser amount of urgency attached to them, which can slightly dampen the excitement-inducing aspect attached to in-person auctions. Nevertheless, receiving an email telling you that you’re the currently the top bidder, or that you’ve won the lot, is sure to create some tingles in your tummy, so all is not lost there.

Depending on where you choose to sell, you can feel the customer experience is more impersonal than dealing with someone face to face. Whilst this is indeed a downfall of some online auction experiences, here at William George, we build long term relationships with many of our buyers and sellers and we’re renowned for our first-class customer service and support.


Although we’ve talked about the excitement caused by in-the-room auctions, these sorts of experiences are not quite as frequently occurring as thought by many. Often, lots don’t sell for more than £10-£20 and are made up of knick-knacks, as opposed to fancy pieces of art and extravagant porcelain.

Your decision-making in the moment can also be severely hindered if you don’t take the opportunity to do your research on the lots beforehand. There are mere moments for you to make decisions, and you can end up erring on the side of caution if you don’t know much about the individual pieces or splurging on something and regretting it later.

At online auctions you have the time to do your research before needing to make a decision – and you can also be more strategic, waiting until later on in the auction timeline to see who puts in a late bid and how much for. In short, you can be much more measured.

So, what are you waiting for?! Find yourself an auction and get yourself involved however you can. If you decide to give online auctions a spin, take a look at our live auctions right now and get bidding!