And the controls in place vary, as what works for one may not work for another, according to National Auctioneers Association members.
Lisa Gay, CAI, of LL Auctions in Dickinson, Texas, realizes what’s known as the Costco-style checkout — checking buyers at the door like membership-based retailers — is popular among Auctioneers, but it doesn’t work for her.
Typically, with the “Costco checkout,” winning bidders retrieve their items and take them to the front, where auction staff checks buyers at the door.
“We’ve found you can run into problems with bulk lots that way,” she says. “You may have a box full of items, but not each individual item is tagged. The box may say lot No. 100, but you may have put other stuff in there.”
Her company doesn’t allow buyers to pick up their items on their own. Instead, a staff member chaperones winning bidders to a table away from the merchandise.
The staff member leaves and gathers the buyer’s items, brings those items back to the buyer, and then checkout proceeds.
Gay uses the system for both live and online auctions. Online winning bidders must schedule a time to pick up their items.
The policies can sometimes initially aggravate winning bidders who want to immediately see and touch their items, Gay says.
“Once they see that we are doing this to make sure they get their stuff and get it in good condition, we find that bidders develop trust in us,” she says.
The procedures have minimized loss as well.
“Last year, we did a huge online auction that filled three big warehouses, a side yard and back yard. We had just one lot of less than $20 that we couldn’t find, and it had fallen behind something,” Gay says. “To basically have no shrinkage was phenomenal.”