Bidding histories develop bidder trust

Last week’s post dealt with grokking that there is no functional difference between a minimum or starting bid and a reserve on an item. A post last month pointed out that it’s bad to try to be sneaky when protecting a reserve on an item and that it’s much better to be upfront with the conditions of sale than to try to hide the house’s bidding practices from the other bidders.

Today, we’re going to examine bidding histories, another method of fostering trust between an auctioneer and bidders with regards to Internet bidding. Here’s an example of what we mean.


Bidding history showing the start of bidding to be $1


Internet bidding sites should absolutely allow a prospective bidder to view the previous bids placed on an item. Knowing when these bids were placed and the increments at which they were placed allows the bidder to know what the starting bid was. Knowing who is bidding – the number or username, not the identity – allows the bidder to spot perceived trends in bidding activity. This knowledge prevents an auctioneer or seller from starting the bidding at a low price and then immediately bidding to create an artificial minimum bid for the next real bidder.

We don’t have space to display all 63 bids in the example above, but here’s the finale that shows how the item – which started at $1 above – ended up selling for over $10,000.


Final bidding history showing the final price of an item


Another benefit of making bidding histories available to bidders is that the bid count can be shown in the catalog view. The number of bids shows the level of interest in items and sellers and bidders may be interested to know which items are the most active in an event.

In a live auction, any attending bidder can have access to the bidding history for an item simply by paying attention to the auctioneer. The number of bids and the speed at which they are received arguably builds excitement and can arguably increase the final sales price.

There aren’t any secrets to Internet bidding. Holding a successful auction is more like cooking, where many ingredients are important but different chefs may use different portions at different times to create uniqueness. However, there are ingredients that, if left out, can ruin the project. Internet bidding systems should make items’ bidding histories available to prospective bidders because these histories are a very important ingredient to a successful Internet auction event.

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Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES | |

Aaron Traffas, CAI, AMM, CES, is an auctioneer from Sharon, Kansas. For the last 22 years he's worked for Purple Wave. Aaron served as president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association in 2017 and on the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Board of Trustees from 2009 through 2013. He is a past instructor at CAI and co-wrote the original ATS and AMM designation courses from NAA. An active contract bid caller, he has advanced to the finals in multiple state auctioneer contests. During the summer, Aaron operates a farm in south central Kansas. Aaron is an active singer and songwriter and the Aaron Traffas Band's latest music can be found at as well as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.