As we all collectively watch the next few weeks unravel I don’t know if anyone honestly knows what is going to happen in our Country. Possibly nothing? Possible mayhem? Or somewhere in between? I don’t really want to forecast my best guess so will stay mute and watch. In the middle of all this lies the reality of business….specifically the auction and resale business which has been completely changed forever in 2020.
I talked a few months back about how fast this “space” is growing and changing but it is even beyond what I could have imagined. To be honest I can barely keep up with changes, software, & customer profiles. Auction companies coming…auction companies going….auction companies popping up from 100’s of miles away to do an auction…and nearly every auction company doing their “own thing”. This should be great for the consumer right? Well….if only….
When I visited the idea of “confusion” with this sudden growth a few months back I really didn’t think it would reach this level this fast. I believe Bullseye/BumbleBee was the first in the area to use Hi Bid Software years ago and this really never came into play in Colorado until the past year. Covid has truly revolutionized this market. There are now somewhere around 15 companies using/leasing the same software as BumbleBee in the near area and around 8 of those have just joined in the past 10 months. How can a consumer even keep up? I don’t have that answer.
In the last 3 weeks we have had over 50 people come by looking to pickup and pay for their winnings~high bids from other auctions at our location. Only one big problem…We haven’t had an auction in the past month so this is troubling to say the least. Many are confused over which auction company is having the auction and where they are buying and just assuming it is Bumblebee. Not only does that make me cringe…but that means that these trusting customers that have purchased from Bullseye many times before were assuming that all “terms” of the auctions were similar. This is where all this gets dicey very quickly.
Every auction in the market produces their own “terms and conditions” including buyer’s premiums, credit card fees or charges, & pickup/shipping details. These terms currently differ in MASSIVE ways. Since this strange segmentation in auctions began months ago I have had 100+ regular customers get “sticker shock” from buyer’s premium at other auctions while many didn’t even know what it was. This is a very unfortunate problem but a quick lesson if you are buyer. In case you don’t know what a buyer’s premium is…..it is an additional percentage the auction charges on top of the purchase price generally from 5% all the way to 38% depending on the auction. Why do other companies do this? First to deceive the customer…and Second to be able to “charge” the consignor or seller less so they think they are getting a better deal. (if you follow me…you know I despise buyer’s premiums..period..end of story) That stance has earned me almost ZERO friends in the business…LOL….but that’s ok. It is what it is.
Confusion leads to more confusion which leads to more confusion over the past month as the current strong trend is away from Facebook and it is difficult to even reach out to customers to explain what to look for. It is purely crazy on the backend of this…I could have never even dreamed up some of the calls and encounters I have had regarding the above issue. I mention Facebook as the movement the past couple weeks away from the platform is real….super real…even though I didn’t see that as possible. Our post reach is down over 50% the past couple weeks and quite honestly I don’t believe this trend will stop. This actually may be a benefit to the auction market in the end. Less confusion and more direct marketing from companies will calm down a lot of the misleading confusion out there right now. While so many auctions look the same on the “outside” they are certainly different on the “inside”.
If you are reading this…make sure you PAY ATTENTION to where you are bidding and which company you are patronizing with your hard earned money. If you like the BumbleBee and how we approach online auctions….We will always have our logo’s at the top of the catalog and in nearly all instances our logo will be in the top left of the catalog. If you are bidding on another auction…READ THE TERMS! You could get your credit card auto charged, have an out of town or funky pickup location, or pay a crazy buyer’s premium. From Covid to Elections to Now Online Auctions….it appears there is going to be no clear path for much of anything in the coming months. We are doing our best to hang on for the ride just as are you. One thing is for certain…Times are Changing Fast and only a higher power knows where anything leads.