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24/05/2019 | Dave Barton

Auctioneers consign third party live bidding to history

When meeting auctioneers we often hear about their long and proud history, with some of our clients able to trace their roots back over 250 years!

For many, their businesses have remained largely unchanged for generations. For decades they continued to market themselves in the same traditional ways, often using local print publications, and saw large crowds descending on their salerooms for viewings and sale days.

Digital solutions for auctioneers

Over the past 20 years, the internet has driven tremendous change in the regional auction industry. At all stages in the life cycle of a sale the internet now dominates, from seeking consignments, through publication of the catalogue and the marketing of the sale, to online live bidding when the sale is under way.

Webreality has worked with auctioneers for over 15 years, supporting them through this period of change by developing auctioneer website technology that enables buyers to place commission bids and request condition reports online, and sellers to request online valuations.

Live online bidding

Most recently, the ability to engage potential buyers with a live bidding capability has been the fastest area of technological development. Fewer people now attend sales in person, many preferring to bid from wherever they are, using whatever internet-connected device they choose.

Risk of relying on third-parties

To meet this customer expectation, auctioneers have for some years depended on third-party live auction websites which take catalogue data feeds from multiple auction houses and aggregate them. Whilst bidders have no doubt benefited from the ability to find multiple lots on a single website, the loss of the direct relationship with buyer has presented a significant risk to the regional houses.

Control data and costs

As has been well documented elsewhere, data has become a commodity of immeasurable value for business, especially those with decades or even centuries of customer relationships on their books. For an auctioneer, sending buyers away to a different website to bid live means surrendering a mass of future customer data. Equally importantly, auctioneers have no control over what a third-party live bidding website might charge buyers for live bidding in auctions they host.

In-house online auctions

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the past two years we’ve seen our long-standing auction clients, and many new ones, respond to the potential market control of the third-party live bidding sites by seeking to offer buyers equivalent functionality on the auctioneer’s own website.

This is enabling the auctioneers not only to retain their own customer data, but also to compete by offering considerably lower cost (or in some cases zero cost) live bidding direct to their buyers.

Working with Bidpath

For businesses that have been relatively late adopters of internet channels to market, moving to offer live bidding might feel like an innovation too far. We hope that we can reassure any auction houses facing this challenge with the benefit of our recent experience. We have helped seven auction houses of various sizes with the integration of live bidding into their own websites by partnering with Bidpath ( Bidpath’s live bidding software can be integrated into an auctioneer’s own website in such a way that,

  • the user’s experience is simple and enjoyable
  • the auctioneer’s branding is honoured on every webpage
  • the buyer’s data is not lost to any third party, and
  • the auctioneer can determine the level of the live bidding fee.
Proven experience and success

We’ve designed, built and launched live bidding integrated websites for clients including Golding Young, Adam Partridge, H&H Classics and Tennants. We’d love to help you join this illustrious company of leading names!

For more information about our services for auction house please visit