online auctions

     There are a lot of questions surrounding online auctions.  I’ve been selling goats in online auctions as long as anybody.  Kela and Milligan partnered to do the first online goat auction in OK several years ago.  For a breeder that doesn’t have large #s, an online auction is an excellent place to market goats.  For a breeder that has LOTS of goats, it is an excellent way to attract new buyers, while still having regular live auctions.  

Here are the most important questions that I have been asked over the past, well, we are getting close to a decade of selling online.  

1.–Are these sales for real?  YES!  I would say more so real than in a live auction.  I’m sure that some deals weren’t real, but for the most part, they are the real deal.  Several large breeders used to question me.  “For real?”  YES!  Now, they have more online sales than anybody.  Why?  They work.  

2.–Do you really attract new customers?  Yes.  I’ve never had a buyer from West Viriginia, Maryland or Oregon.  But I have had people bid online from those states.  I’ve had people buy online that lived less than 30 miles from me that I had never met, never been to my place, never called, never bought a goat from me anywhere.  But they bought it online.  One year, I had an Oklahoma family buy two wethers from me sight unseen online.  They hadn’t called, sent anybody to look, nothing.  How did that turn out?  One wether was a reserve division at Tulsa, the other was a class winner at Tulsa.  You never know.  

3.–What is the most important part of selling online?  Honesty.  When somebody calls, tell them the truth.  Don’t try to hide anything.  You don’t want a buyer to show up to get their purchase and go “Is that it? It looked better in the picture.”  You want to hear, “Hell, that one is way better than I expected.”  The animal is only as good as the person selling it.  

4. –Which is more important–the picture or the write up?  For me, the write up.  I like it when sellers text me & say this is the one I need, therefore I like a write up that tells me why I need it.  The good ones are going to find a good home no matter what the picture looks like (or in the absence of a picture, whichever the case may be).  An honest write up that is fun to read works.  However, a picture/video is worth a thousand words.  Or more.  If you get that money shot, it will drag some action.  

5.  Which is easier? a live sale or online sale– They are both work.  Pictures/Videos of a live animal take planning, time and patience.  

6.–What is the worst thing about an online sale?  The fact that it will be a week or two before all of the animals sold will be picked up and off your feed bill.  

7.–Best thing about an online sale?  The auction company takes care of money collections.  

8.  Are online auctions good for anybody?  NO!  You have to have realistic expectations.  If you’ve never sold a $1,000 wether before, don’t expect to do it in your first online auction.  It takes time and effort.  A smaller herd with quality will get along well in an online auction.  A large herd will do well selling an “appetizer plate” before a live auction.  Breeding stock seems to always sell well online. You have to promote the sale to your regular customers as well as to potential customers.  As with anything successful, these things take work and effort.  

9–Will online auctions replace a live auction? NO  There is something about the thrill of a live auction that cannot be duplicated.  There will almost always be a place for a live auction.  Online auctions work, but so does a live sale.

10.-What about a buyer’s premium?  I understand the principle of a buyer’s premium, but personally, I’m out on the deal.  Buying–I hate it.  Selling–okay, whatever.  


These are just personal opinions.  I understand how to do a killer good online sale, although I normally don’t as that would take time and management.  On the other hand, I buy a LOT of stuff in online auctions.  As a buyer/customer I can dang sure tell you what I don’t like about online auctions.

     Over the years, I have bought or bid on animals in online auctions on,,,,,, and others that I don’t remember.  I’ve also sold/bought/bid on equipment on, and  Let’s just say that I have dealt with numerous online auction sites.  Oh, yeah.  I’ve bought on eBay also.  

     Most of the time, I was using my buyer #, some of the times I was buying for somebody else.  Most of these sites are consistent in the way the auctions are presented, the way they bid, the way they close the sale and collect.  They differ in customer service, advertising and whether they have a buyer’s premium or commission.  

    The buyer’s premium does NOT fit my mental state during an auction.  I don’t like it of a morning trying to buy a $200,000 tractor while worrying about the buyer’s premium.  I dang sure don’t like it at 8 pm trying to buy a pig or calf online with a couple of cold ones and trying to factor in the buyer’s premium.  To me, it takes the thrill of an auction out of the game.  If I’m having to try to bid to my max or beyond and then I have to factor in how much more it will actually cost me–well, it just makes the auction kind of, hhmm, limp.  If you lose the edge of an auction, then you didn’t maximize dollars.  As a seller, I leave enough money on the table due to my personality and lack of management.  I don’t need to lose anymore because somebody is trying to run a calculator before they bid.  

     What I don’t like about some of these auction sites?  One–How good is the online auction company if the breeder has to contact me to tell me that there is a sale taking place?  If things are done right, I should see it advertised, texted, emailed to me and then I call the breeder and say “Hey, what do they look like?”  Not the other way around.  If all they are doing is “hosting” the sale, then they aren’t earning their commission.  

      Is the website that hosts the auction a go-to site for industry news, bs, shows, info, etc.?  If all the website is good for is hosting sales, there won’t be much extra traffic.  For instance, I would be a dumb donkey to host a sheep auction on  Why?  I don’t cater to, try to gather or have much to do with the sheep industry.  So why host a sheep sale?  I don’t.  Now, a goat sale or dispensing BS, I can do it and do it well.  

      Is the auction company willing to help with pics/videos, descriptions, etc.?  How can you sell something, if you haven’t seen what it is that you are selling?  When people call me about my online animals and they can’t look for themselves, I will give them a name like Poe, Thompson or Milligan that has seen them.  Those cats will give an un-biased opinion of the animals.  I have sent pics to an online auction site and have them say, “These aren’t good enough.”  So, I re-take pics.  I want them to be honest and upfront.  I’ve had online auction companies come and take the pictures–equipment and goats–for a price.  It is good for both parties.  My point, is the online auciton company just trying to cash a commission check or are they actually trying to help you sell your product for the most money possible?  There is a difference.

     I’ve had several online auction companies call and ask me to have a sale with them.  Of course, I like being called.  And I am always open to new options.  But, I don’t like the answers to the questions.  Are you going to come look at the animals?  How much commission?  Who proof-reads and loads the pics?  Who answers the phone during the auction when there is a problem?  I’m sure that I can seem like a PITA, but I know what I want, what I need and what I can get.  

     I’m not trying to bash anybody or anything, but I have tried to look at animals on the drive deal and that auction platform gives me a stigmatism trying to look at all that crap, so I quit looking and have never bid or bought on that site.  I’m sure there has been some animals sold on there that I needed, but my ADD kicked in trying to sort that crap out and like the turkey on “Christmas Vacation”….I was done…pufft.  I respect anybody trying to be different or set new trends, but get on the business end of it and see what it looks like.  My right eye only kind-of works and then you throw that kind of crap at me.  Sorry.  Can’t do it.  

     As a buyer, I spend less when dealing with a buyer’s premium.  I spend less when using somebody else’s buyer #.  I spend less when spending somebody else’s money.  I spend less when I only have 2 days or less to see pics, think about it, make calls, etc.  I am NOT afraid to use the max bid feature; especially if there are several sales going on at the same time.  On the contrary, I spend more when the pic matches the genetics and the description.  I spend more when I have a day or two to decide if I’m going to do something stupid or not.  I spend more when the seller assures me that I will like it.  I spend more online if I am prepared to get stupid, have time to get stupid and then a contending bidder forces me to get retarded.  As a buyer, I want to get my purchase, see the breeder the next time and say, “The only thing wrong with that deal is that I need 10 more just like it.”  That is good for both buyer and seller.  

     Basically, I spend more when I feel comfortable with the product being sold and the price is right in front of me.  I also sell animals for more dollars when I have proper pics, a good write up and the crap to back it all up.  

      Online auctions are here.  They are going to get bigger.  An operator just needs to figure out how an online auction fits their program.  Then shop around.  Ask questions.  Do the prep work and like Nike says, “Just Do It”.  It will work.