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Re: Guest Post: "Remember When" Bidding Was Bidding?
There is a lot of truth to unjum's comments, but the deeper truth is that established bidders will abandon an honest site in a heartbeat if they start to have any kind of losses.
We'd like to share a slightly different narrative:
We've been in this industry for nearly a year, having joined at a difficult time for sure. We've seen bidders come and go on our site for various reasons. AnniesBid had shipping issues from last last year until February which we solved. Even after we solved our shipping issues and brought shipping times up, we did not see many people return. When we ask bidders who are not returning, despite the shipping time improvement, the reasons given include unfamiliarity with our new auction styles (e.g., the Duel or Rolling Reserve auctions, which many people mistakenly believe is a waste of bids despite the daily bids back).
But we have totally new bidders to penny auctions joining us every week who are not afraid to try us out, and most of those win on their starter bid pack, stick around and become loyal supporters. So what's the difference between our new, more loyal bidders and some of the bidders that have taken a break?
There was a time when bidders could establish a reputation, know who to bid against and who note, and rely on that to gain $2 - $4 of product on the dollar. The only reason that situation persisted was because a lot of new bidders continued to join penny auction sites effectively subsidizing established, experienced bidders. Then, when dozens of me-too sites appeared to cater to that group, bidders started to try them out to increase their chances and ROI, which they found harder and harder to come by on larger sites like Quibids and Beezid. So they took a risk on new sites which had less competitive and easier wins.
But without the traffic to cover their costs, a lot of these sites quickly ran out of money since the percent of bidders who knew one another (and therefore would not compete against one another) was much higher. With more auctions closing for pennies, these sites failed and many bidders found themselves without product.
Now, many sites from Beezid to Skoreit are trying new auction models to increase competition. Other sites are flooding their users with thousands of promo bids. Quibids is expanding globally to add more bidders. These companies are all doing honest things to cover costs against a growing tide of bidder cooperation and ensure that they don't have to shills or bots.
And yet bidders in many other threads find all of these changes objectionable. A quick scan of APA statistics does show that many previously established bidders have stopped bidding on even well known sites. Why? Because the real reason is that powerbidders and other experienced bidders in this community got used to winning items at 50% off and can't stomach the 20% they could achieve now (albeit with different tactics).
What most people don't understand is that the same amazing deals - even better ones - are often possible in new auction formats if you use strategies other than the same worn out strategies of tag & defend, etc.
None of this means that penny auctions are slowly dying, but it does mean that the types of auctions and the strategies that won them are fading away to replace something more sustainable but a bit harder to win on. Will amazing deals be possible? Yes, but you'll need to be every more strategic in your bidding and try new tactics. Will collusion work? Probably not, unless you find a site that works that until the auction rules as is possible at sites like PenniesTrifecta, Share the Spoils, or even in our Duel auctions where you can split bounties with friends.
We don't want to diminish what Uanjum has said: of course there are sites using shills and bots, and some of them are still doing this despite being publicly outed. But we see and hear a lot of other bidders generally expressing frustration at the industry by using words like "shills" and "bots" in public, but in private its just as much about declining ROI on the honest sites.
We don't agree with unajum that there are just a "handful" of honest sites out there. There are dozens upon dozens of honest sites, from the large ones, to smaller ones, and they are all ready to welcome your business if you give them a chance.
This used to be and usually still us a really FUN business to be in, whether as a bidder or a site owner. Its great to be able to win some and lose some, but in the end have a good time and walk away with new friendships. Auctions sites have their fair share of blame for being irresponsible, but bidders also have developed unsustainable expectations of how much they can win so easily and how much longer the sites they win so much can stick around.
Its possible that many established, experienced bidders will stay on the sidelines as new sites emerge with new strategies because they don't want to accept the change that's needed for this business model to survive. That's their choice to make.
Well, guess what all of you new bidders? That's simply a GREAT opportunity for all of you to learn what makes new sites and strategies tick, to master those strategies while others wait, and to have less competition from powerbidders. Its not a decline - its an exciting time of experimentation and rebirth!
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