Is Your Online House in Order?

A full-service auction house on site differs from one online, and if your house is selling to bidders in both arenas, you need to provide full Internet service. Otherwise competitors selling only online or who are early adopters will slowly but surely claim your return customers in a zero-sum numismatic market. Below we discuss some steps you can take to be in lockstep with the best Web auctioneers.

Before providing a list about best online coin practices, we’d like to mention past posts that will go a long way helping auctioneers achieve success.

We have had requests in the past week for updates on this topics, and we’ll comply in the coming weeks.

Proxiblog will continue running our viewers’ favorite regular post, “Boos and Booyahs!, focusing on best and bad lot descriptions for coins. We also have been asked to provide an update on Best Proxibid Photography as well as more Terms of Service features, like this one.

Click on those links to understand the basics of successful online auctioneering. Add to that our Honor Roll standards of buyer’s fee of a maximum 15%; sharp and expandable photos; and reasonable, quick shipping.

We add to those basics the following:

  1. APN clearance. This gives bidders peace of mind because they can rely on the security that Proxibid provides by withholding access to credit card data. Yes, a fee is involved. Auctioneers forget that Proxibid is accepting responsibility for those credit card numbers and paying for Internet security to protect them, including additional technology and employees. You just cannot get this for free, or resent the fee, because without it, you will not have access to one of the fastest growing segments of auctioneering, i.e., online coin dealing.
  2. In-house shipping. If you are paying for APN clearance, for Pete sake do your own shipping and do not rely on outside carriers such as UPS to come to your auction house, collect your lots, and then charge bidders separately for shipping. They end up doing the same thing: Contacting bidders and asking for their credit card data. We advise bidders reading this post never to bid on lots by any auction house specifying this in its terms of service.
  3. One-price shipping. Scott Strosnider of Scott Auctions developed this incentive on Proxibid. He charges 10$ for any purchase, whether $100 or $10,000. Insurance comes with that, by the way. We recommend that our online bidders avoid houses that charge handling fees and punish bidders with $1 per lot premiums for every winning bid. You are punishing your best customers. Does that make sense?
  4. Reasonable opening bids. What’s reasonable? Numismatic practice states 60% of retail. We’re continuing to see some of our favorite auction houses open bids at retail with buyer’s fees on top of that. One house this weekend is offering a 2005 PF70 Silver Eagle with an opening bid of $110, which happens to be exact retail price. If a consignor is setting reserves, then charge them for passed lots. While it’s not the case with this high-functioning house, we recommend that Proxibid monitor passed lots to see which houses are using its technology for free, offering the same high opening bids each week on the same passed coins until somebody makes an unwise purchase.

We understand why several of our regular auctioneer viewers object to these standards. Making a living in difficult economic times can be a struggle. We’re not talking about that, though. We’re talking about maximizing your profits by understanding change–in this case, the way that business is done on Internet. You will have to cater to the online as well as onsite crowd and provide incentives for return business. We want you to succeed. Because when you do, Proxibid does, along with the customer.

That’s win-win-win!

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

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