It is the professional responsibility of an online auctioneer to give potential buyers all the information they need to make an informed buying decision. If you try to make an item appear better online than it is in person you are not acting professionally. If you only take a single photo for an expensive item you are also not acting professionally. Part of a professional auctioneer’s job is to get the highest return for the seller. A single photo does not provide enough detail to sell a high-priced item online. Now, I’m not talking about dollar lots or pots and pans; I’m talking about lots with significant value. Condition, wear, defects, and size all need to be shown to prospective buyers. The best way to do that is by taking multiple photos, or better still by using video.
The tools on the market today for auction cataloging make taking and providing multiple photos so fast and inexpensive it is a disservice to a seller not to show the complete view of an item for sale.
Many online buyers make purchases without physically inspecting the item these buyers trust the auctioneer to provide them with all of the necessary information. It stands to reason that auctioneers who provide detailed pictures get more money for the same items, compared to auctioneers who sell with a single photo. Auctioneers who use a single photo often complain their online auctions don’t do very well. It is because they are not providing buyers with the comprehensive information they need to feel comfortable bidding. In this circumstance the online auction is not failing the auctioneer; rather, the auctioneer is failing the online auction process.
Buyers will always assume the worst until you show them the actual condition of an item. To be competitive, today’s online auctioneers should be the eyes and ears for online buyers. They need to make buyers feel as if they are looking at the item in-person. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: what you want to see is what you must show them.
Let’s use this truck as an example.

This is a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 4WD with 15,000 Miles. Nice Clean Truck. Check out the interior it still has the new truck smell. Most auctioneers would love to have this truck to sell. Late model, low miles, clean, 4×4, what’s not to like?

However, a single photo does not demonstrate how nice this truck really is, it doesn’t make a buyer fall in love. For an online buyer one photo is a lot better than no photo, but it still leaves the buyer with a lot of unanswered questions. By including more photos with different various and angles, the seller provides a more complete picture, so to speak, of the truck:

Now, the buyer can see that the truck has aluminum rims with over sized tires, good rubber and a lift; they see that the passenger side looks clean, the front has a custom bumper with lights, they see that the truck has an engine, and that the windshield isn’t cracked. By adding more photos the seller instills more confidence in the buyer when they decide to bid. As the bid increases, the buyer will feel secure bidding and their decision to purchase the truck, and they will likely bid higher.

Understandably, with even more photos, buyers will feel even more confident with their purchase if they’re unable to review the item in-person:

With even more photos, the buyer can see that the leather seats look great, they are not dirty, cut or cracked; they see that the truck has a full extra row of seats, they can verify the mileage, and see that the truck has power to it. These pictures also shows they have keys, that there is no water damage, and that the floors are clean.
Photographing eight additional views takes less than one minute, but the amount of confidence it adds for the buyer is probably immeasurable. More photos gives buyers more to fall in love with and take ownership of. It’s easy to picture yourself in the front seat of that truck now that you know what it looks like inside and out. These photos help the buyer develop an attachment that will provide the emotion you as the seller need to get them to bid higher.
Taking photos is fast, it’s all the processing to get them online where auctioneers waste a lot of time. Most auctioneers either take a lot of photos and spend hours every auction renaming, resizing and uploading, or they take a single photo and know they need to take more photos but don’t have the time, knowledge or energy to do it.
Wavebid is a Software As A Service that solves these problems. It’s a powerful tool for auctioneers. It allows auctioneers to save time and take more photos. Don’t believe me? Sign up for your free demo.
Taking additional photos also saves time answering subjective questions. For example: is the item clean? Are there any obvious problems? Is there any damage to the item? And on and on. The definition of “damage” is different for every person. To some, damage means a paint chip or a door ding. Showing the buyer what they will receive means no surprises, no disappointments, and you establish trust in your business for the buyer, which means someone who is more likely to return to your auctions and someone who will spread the word that you’re a reliable auctioneer. Also remember, if you don’t show the seller they will assume the worst and bid accordingly.
Is 9 photos enough for a 2010 Truck? Does this truck have a tailgate?

Turns out it does have a tailgate, a bed topper and was involved in a pretty serious accident. In the first 11 photos I provided, it’s hard to see the actual condition of the truck. Now that there complete pictures, of every angle of the truck, how do you feel about the overall condition of the truck? By not providing a complete picture, a lot of buyers automatically assume the worst to avoid overpaying, surprises and disappointment. Those are all risks in an “as-is, “where-is” auction.
If you are a professional online auctioneer or want to be, I challenge you to tell the complete story for every lot. Take all the photos you would want to see if you were buying an item for your father-in-law or your future wife. There are thousands of buyers online waiting and looking to buy your items. It is your responsibility to give those buyers all of the information they need and deserve to pull the trigger and become a winner. If your only excuse is the time it takes to do this, check out Wavebid. We have solutions to increase your productivity and help you become more successful.

Russ Hilk is a professional auctioneer turned software developer. He has sold over $50 million dollars of assets in online auctions over the last 10 years. Wavebid is a Software As A Service company designed to serve auctioneers who want to be more successful and efficient selling online. Wavebid does not replace an auctioneer’s online marketplace it only serves to help auctioneers catalog faster with better results.

By Russ Hilk Co-Founder Wavebid