Make More Money At Your Auction With Data, Part 1: Items

Every auction generates data. You probably already review your sales data to gauge the success of your events. But delving even deeper into your data can help you make more money at your auction next year. (Yes, you can have a next auction, pandemic or not. More on that at the end of this post.) In this post, we present tips on how to look at item data to help you make more money at your auction; next we will look at data on your supporters.

There’s a world of event data on your site at Admin > View Reports. Each pre-programmed report can be customized to display the information you wish to see. 

By looking at your data and asking the right questions, you can learn how to strategically procure and price items for your next event. Strategic procurement and pricing are more important than ever at a time when every nonprofit needs to make its fundraiser stand out. A smaller catalog of well-curated items, priced correctly, can help you make more money at your auction than an expansive catalog of the same-old same-old. You can no doubt come up with your own creative ways to slice and dice your data, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

Confirm your best selling items. You probably already have a sense — just off the top of your head — of what your perennial best sellers are. Start by looking at those and confirm your assumptions. Do these items still sell for high dollar amounts? If they were sold online, did they generate a lot of bids? Or sell quickly for a hefty Buy Now price? Over the years, have they performed better or has interest started to fall off? Items that are popular for a couple of years may become old news down the line. If they’re losing their freshness, it may be time to brainstorm some replacements. 

Now take a look at the rest of your silent and live items. Which items sold for more than their FMV? How much more? Were there any surprises on this list? If so, what do you think accounted for their appeal? And how might that appeal be replicated with other items?

Which items didn’t perform as well as you expected? If some of them used to generate lots of bidding interest/revenue, but don’t anymore, their charms may have faded. Consider replacing them with something new in next year’s catalog. 

Review the minimum bid settings for items that didn’t perform well. Do the minimum bid levels seem high compared to FMV? If so, perhaps the minimum was too great a threshold for your bidders to cross. If you plan to offer these items again, consider reducing their minimum bids to attract initial interest. (But flag these items for review after your next event. If they’re still not selling to expectations, it’s probably time to replace them.)

Take a look at the bidding history for your online Silent items. Which items generated lots of bids? And what percentage of those bids exceeded the minimum raise amount? If bidders are frequently skipping over raise intervals, that’s a sign that you can set a higher minimum raise on those items the next time around. 

Which items received few or no bids? Were their minimum bids set too high, as discussed above? Could they be given more interesting names and descriptions, or combined into lots, to make them more appealing next year? 

If you assigned Buy Now prices to some or all of your online Silent Items, check to see how many sold at those prices. If a significant number of your Silent items sold for Buy Now prices, that’s a sign that it’s time to ratchet those up next year. 

You have continuous access to your past event sites, so you have the ability to look at your data any time you like. But if you’re just finishing up this year’s auction, take a look sooner rather than later, while the event is still fresh in your mind. Make planning easier for next year’s team by flagging the most successful items for them and recommending strategies for pricing and procurement.
Because you can have an auction next year. In the best case scenario, it may be a gala where your supporters celebrate in person. But if the best case isn’t an option, we’ve got you covered. We’re close to launching a virtual live auction feature that will allow you to embed a livestream directly into your site. Your supporters will be able to view your auctioneer and your gala program while they place their bids — all on a single screen. Stay tuned for more details…

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