Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Sold! To The Highest Bidder!
Always looking for new places to sell, I came across a new online auction site. Take the auction bidding element like ebay, combining it with a live auction but do it online and you have a virtual auction site known as Tophatter Auction. On Tophatter you create an avatar figure to represent yourself in their virtual auction room. There is only a smidge of room for customizing your avatar but I guess something is better than nothing!
So you get your avatar all gussied up and are ready to attend your first virtual auction. You must register to be a buyer or seller, providing the necessary information. Right now, just for registering, Tophatter is giving a $5 credit voucher to be used towards any auction purchase. If you like them on facebook while in the auction room, you can get 10% off your purchase for that day only.
Tophatter has multiple different themed auctions scheduled everyday. You can attend as many as you would like as a buyer. There is a chat feature where you can ask sellers a question regarding their items in real time and get a response if they are in attendance. Be forewarned though as the chat can move fast most time, so you really need to pay attention. You are also able to chat with other auction attendees, much like how a virtual chat room works.
Ok, are you still with me? I registered to sell at the end of February and had my first item(lot) up for auction in the weekend bazaar. You list your item, along with the pertinent details along with minimum opening bid. Be forewarned though, that you can only start the bidding for 50% of the retail value of the item. There is no reserve, so just be aware, that your item could sell for just the opening bid, go for more or not sell at all. You are able to put a link into your items with your website, etsy, artfire, selling blog, facebook or ebay. Wherever you have an online presence...I'll explain the importance of this before I close this post.
So my first item sold for about 70% of what I retail it for. Not great but not bad. I had to wait til that one sold til I could schedule another one. When you are new and until you build your reputation, you can only list one lot at a time. Seems fair, as they don't want scam sellers there but believe me, it is an eternity waiting for your item to come up and to be able to get a slot for the next one! LOL!
My next auction didn't fair so well....but that's how the auction business goes. My next one, I sold for retail price...still waiting to get paid for that one...yep there are non payers there too, just like everywhere else online. My buyer is suppose to be working on setting up her paypal account, so we shall see. Oh and if you haven't figured it out, the only acceptable payment method for now is paypal.
The next one up sold for $1 over opening bid. I was then able to list up to 5 lots. But getting lots scheduled is a chore in itself. Finally got all 5 listed for this weeks auction schedule.
So far my lots have sold as follows...1 for 70% of retail. 2 for opening bid, 2 for full retail and 2 are scheduled for tomorrow. Ok, so back to the importance of being able to put your online link location. Well there are text alerts that buyers can set for upcoming lots, so they can multitask while waiting for their interested item to come up. My one lot came up. A buyer had set the alert. She never got it. But the best thing was this, she contacted me through my website link and bought the item for full retail price! Yeah! This is a sale that I may not have made had it not been for Tophatter...and let's face it the internet is huge when you are looking for things and even bigger when you are selling.
Tophatter has had a few glitches with their software...the missed alert for my customer being one of them. The other one was their server crashed on Saturday night in the middle of the weekend bazaar auction mostly due to the number of auction attendees in the room, I think. It took them about 20 minutes to reset everything and they were back in business. The staff have been very attentive to their customers...buyers and sellers alike.
I had contacted them regarding having difficulty scheduling lots and got an email response that day with an offer to help. They even followed up and double checked that I was able to get my items scheduled. So Tophatter gets an A+++++ in my book for customer service.
Almost forgot to tell you about the fees...there is a $1 per lot or 10% fee for selling, whichever is greater. There is no cost if your item doesn't sell. So for those selling on ebay, it's a little less, for those sellig on etsy a bunch more.
There isn't a whole lot of prims to be found there as of yet, and I'm hoping that will change. There is an awful lot of jewelry there, like many of the online selling venues and is very competitive to get a slot. Wish I could say that the sellers were always respectful, but can't. Many will promote themselves while others lots are up for auction. Many will chat over buyers questions so the seller miss them completely. Many are just plain rude. But like anywhere in life, we have all types.
So there you have it...the good, the bad and the ugly. I don't know how much longer I will sell on Tophatter Auctions. I will take each day as it comes. If I can use it for some advertising and make some sales along the way, then it will serve it's purpose, but in no way will it be my main selling venue....you know the old adage about putting all your eggs in one basket...won't be happening here.
Until next time....