April 03, 2015
Posted by Alicia Baumann

ShipHawk for Online Auctions

Auctions have played an integral role in the human experience and have become a major part of the modern economy. From the earliest days of the auction house, buyers would travel from all over the world for the opportunity to bid on items that were both prolific and obscure to the most mundane and trivial trinkets of commerce. Regardless of what was was being sold, one thing became clear: people love a good auction.

In Thomas L. Friedman’s bestselling book, The World Is Flat, he paints a vivid picture of how the 21st century has seen a major leveling of the playing field in terms of commerce, where ALL competitors have an equal opportunity. This is particularly true within the auction industry.

Since the 1700’s this industry was dominated by a small group: Sotheby’s (est.1744), Christie’s (est.1766), Bonhams (est.1793), and Freeman’s (est.1805). These storied auction houses have been faced with the realization that in order to preserve their legacy, they must adapt with the times of e-commerce. Consumers now have the world at their fingertips, where companies such as eBay, Live Auctioneers, Invaluable, Bidsquare, Proxibid, and Paddle8 have given them a safe venue to flex their auction purchasing power online.

This brings me to my main point, which is that while the auction sphere has entered into the e-commerce space, so, too, has another venerable industry: logistics and transportation. Historically, auctions have sought a very hands-off approach to transportation and logistics leaving it up to the customer or a third party company to service the freight. However, a hands-off approach can become an expensive add-on for the auction house both as a liability and as an additional expenditure. A new approach to shipping is needed so the potential bidder and the auction house have a clear understanding of the cost to ship the item prior to placing the bid.

"Free Shipping" works well for a lot of e-commerce companies who have the ability to set the price prior to purchase, because they can obscure the price of shipping within the final purchase price of the item. In the auction industry, this is impossible to do because the bidders themselves set the final price of the purchase. This means that for every item won, the buyer must pay for 100% of the shipping costs incurred. Often, this can be an intimidating proposition for an online bidder, who wants to bid on that marble-topped teak end table that would look amazing in their newly decorated living room, because they don’t know how much it will cost to ship.

Enter Shiphawk. With Shiphawk’s robust logistics automation software, online auctions can now empower prospective bidders with an instant and accurate price for what it will cost to ship an item prior to purchase. This is paramount for a variety of reasons:

  1. People are much more likely to bid when they know how much it costs to ship. This results in more bids per lot, which, in turn, potentially results in a higher final asking price.
  2. ShipHawk helps increase customer satisfaction by working with the online auction's in-house packaging team, any preferred delivery agents, or within our network of 80+ carriers and 1,200 packaging locations. This provides the customer with a start-to-finish delivery service from an accurate price for transport to the successful delivery of the recently won items.

Online auctions are a great example of one of the many niche industries that can benefit greatly from ShipHawk. Let ShipHawk be the technology that delivers customers their next big win at your auction.

Connor Casey works at ShipHawk in Business Development. Connor specializes in solving one of the biggest hurdles in the e-commerce: shipping.

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