Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build an Auction Website
Technology is continually reshaping our world. The same applies to the auction industry, where there has been a paradigm shift from a physical in-person bidding system to an online auctioning system. Convenience, broader audience reach, and 24*7 availability are driving this change and are expected to make it a $2.50 billion industry by 2027.
In fact, we, at Simform, also developed a white-label auctioning platform that helped auction businesses optimize customer experiences and internal processes while ensuring zero downtime. Using that experience and knowledge, we’re sharing a refined step-by-step guide to build an auction website. Let’s begin by exploring the importance of a digital solution in the auction business.
Why build an online auction website?
There has been a lot of history associated with auction-related commerce. It’s not a new concept on the horizon, but online auction website builders have replaced most traditional auction methods. And rightly so! After all, a traditional auction setup can never offer the accessibility, convenience, and speed that come with a website.
The major reasons why so many auction businesses have moved online (and why your business should too) are:
- If you build an auction website, it will allow you to trade without intermediaries.
- Also, if you build a bidding website, you don’t have to pay hefty handling charges.
- A well-built auction website enables you to expand your business effortlessly, as modern platforms and technologies are easier to scale.
- Although the cost to build an auction website may be a bit high initially, it’s still much lower in the long run compared to the cost of setting up auctions in physical spaces every now and then.
- An auction website opens up new geographical markets for your business, as anyone from anywhere can easily land on your website and start bidding easily.
- There is no language barrier as auction trading is possible in various languages, with the auction website providing a multi-lingual feature.
The reasons discussed may have tempted you to know ‘How do online auction works?’ or ‘How do I create an online auction app?’ In the next section, let’s address those questions by understanding the steps to build an auction site.
Steps to build an auction website that will entice your customers
Auction website development is a complicated process involving many critical stages. It’s vital to get every minute activity right to ensure the success of your auction web app. Here are concrete tips on how to make the right choices during the entire process.
Step 1: Buy a domain name and get a web hosting account
You should have a unique, easily identifiable, and value-driven domain name for your auction website. The domain name should be short, catchy, and easy to pronounce and remember. eBay.com and Amazon.com are great examples of memorable domain names that have become globally famous now.
Many online services and web hosting providers allow you to find and purchase the domain name of your choice. Google Domains, NameCheap, Domain.com, GoDaddy, etc. are a few of the popular ones.
Here are a few tips to follow while picking a domain name:
- Choose top-level domain (TLD) names like .com, .org, .net, etc.
- Check the history of the domain name using Wayback Machine, the largest internet archive.
- Check the domain rating using SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, etc.
If you already have a domain name, attach it to a new web server. However, you need to renew your domain name registration every year to retain it for your business.
After that, you also need a web hosting account to host your domain name. A web hosting account is the server on which your domain name will get hosted. Two significant types of hosting servers are shared servers and exclusive/dedicated servers.
As the name suggests, a shared web hosting server is used by multiple entities that want to reduce their hosting costs. On the other hand, exclusive or dedicated web hosting is an internet hosting option in which a physical server (or servers) is dedicated to a single business customer. It’s best for people or organizations that don’t want their application server to be affected by the actions of other entities using that server. The only downside is that you have to pay a hefty amount compared to the cost of shared web hosting.
Step 2: Finalize the auction model
You’ll require advanced planning, even if you want to create your own auction website for free. It will help you execute the auction website development process without hassles.
One of the critical decisions you must make to create an auction website for free is to decide the type of auction model you want to run your business on. There are six significant live auction models:
- The English Auction: The bid starts with a reserve price until the item gets sold to the current highest bid.
- The Penny Auction: Starts at a minimum price; there are fixed price increments from participants until there are no more offers. The item gets sold to the highest bidder.
- The Dutch Auction: The bid starts at the highest price and reaches the lowest bid until the item receives an offer above the reserve price.
- The Sealed Bid Auction: Potential buyers can bid only once; the current bids are not disclosed, and the maximum bid wins.
- The Vickrey Auction: The highest bidder wins but only has to pay the second-highest bidding amount.
- The Double Auction: Multiple buyers and sellers submit their offers to the auctioneer, who decides the clearing price. All the buyers whose bidding price is higher than the auctioneer can buy and sellers whose bids are below the auctioneer can sell products.
Step 3: Enlist the core features of your auction website
After deciding the user roles (Admin, bidder, and seller) and the type of auction model for the first online auction, you should finalize the features you desire in your auction eCommerce site. Your technology partner will choose the appropriate tech stack and build a feature-rich, robust auction platform.
The list of features varies according to the needs and demands of the particular business. Here are some core features you must include while developing an auction website:
- Listing (add, delete, and modify): Listing allows a seller to list various goods on the auction website. The seller should be able to add, modify, or delete any item. Each listing should have detailed characteristics, item descriptions, product quantity, unique products, photos, videos, and user reviews.
- Data Storage: It’s one of the most critical functions. Prioritizing security in the transactions between the platform and the users, plan for secure storage of sensitive data like personal information, passwords, etc.
- Newsletter: Your auction website should have a feature to send newsletters. Many businesses have made it a practice to send an email informing customers about new listings after every auction.
- Bidding Function: There are many auction types and strategies. The function of the bidding solution should implement strategies you want to incorporate for your auction website.
- Auction Details: It comprises auction grace time, auction start time, upcoming auctions, first auction, auction dates, auction product, auction items, auction winner, auction end, next bidder, list of bidders, etc.
- Payment Gateways: They’re an essential part of any auction website. Integrate the frequently used payment method and payment gateways you want to support for your auction website, like Paypal, Stripe, etc.
- Messaging: A provision on your auction web app should allow transparent communication between a new seller and buyer.
- Analytics: These are useful especially for sellers who seek to promote their business through the auction platform. They can receive information such as product views, purchases, conversion rates, etc.
- User Profile: Generally, auction websites get designed for a specific person and with particular data. So, there should be an option to create a user profile with registration and login forms.
- Search Tool: The search bar is a must for all auction websites. It allows customers to find out the product page of their choice easily.
- Bid Templates: A seller may be aiming to sell thousands of different products. A bid template simplifies the work of sellers as they don’t have to fill out the form every time for a new bid.
- Shopping Cart: It helps customers to pick several products from different online stores and purchase them in a single transaction.
- Ratings and Reviews: The seller and the buyer should be able to provide ratings and reviews for each item/vendor. They should also be able to check ratings and reviews of items/vendors they’re interested in.
- User Management: The admin should be able to edit and delete seller and buyer profiles.
- Auction and Bidding Management: Admins should be able to edit and delete auction bids if they violate the rules and regulations of the bidding code of conduct.
- Shipping: A well-built comprehensive shipping feature helps calculate the delivery price and time, and send the goods to customers in a time-bound manner.
Step 4: Decide the website development method
One of the most influential decisions in auction website development is determining the approach to building the solution. There are two options – (i) an off-the-shelf solution and (ii) custom website development.
Off-the-shelf solution: You can use the ready-to-use solution and create an auction website with WordPress plugins. Content Management System (CMS) is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website without writing code from scratch. After that, you can add relevant content and run the auction site. You can also use the YITH WooCommerce Auctions plugin in WordPress.
Custom website development: You can develop the entire auction website from scratch. For this option, you can contact a website development company. They’ll understand your needs and create a tailor-made new website that matches your exact requirements.
Off-the-shelf vs. custom solution
While off-the-shelf solutions require lower upfront costs and have a faster turnaround time, customized solutions help you to incorporate the business vision from the beginning. Secondly, if you build a custom solution, you can scale it up or down depending on your evolving business needs. Moreover, it’s possible to have real-time data changes and retain peak performance even under tremendous load in customized solutions. Lastly, there are regular security updates and patches in custom auction websites that minimize the risk of hacking or data leaks.
Compared to that, off-the-shelf solutions have minimal capabilities for customization. It’s hard to scale the resources with changing customer demands. The website loading speed is also low to moderate. The only major drawback of customized solutions is the higher upfront costs, which, if you’re willing to spend, can reap rich rewards in the long run. So, we recommend you opt for customized solutions while developing an auction website.
Step 5: Analyze the technical requirements
By this point, you will have already decided on the features you want your auction platform to have. Based on those, you must then determine the technicalities involved in the development and performance of your web app.
If you’ve precise technical requirements ready for how to build an auction website with WordPress or from scratch, developers can choose the right technologies to use to build your solution. Here are some of the aspects that you need to take care of during this stage:
- Website Structure: The structure of the web pages and hierarchy of pages to understand how users will navigate the website.
- Wireframes: The rough sketch of how the web pages should look.
- Load: The estimated amount of users that will visit the site. It helps web developers to create a scalable solution and choose the correct server.
- Page Loading Speed: The desirable loading speed of your web pages affects the ranking and customer satisfaction ratio.
- Browser and Device Support: The website should have cross-browser and cross-device compatibility, ideally.
- Legal Compliance: Any legal requirements the website should follow, like GDPR, HIPPA, or PCI DSS.
Step 6: Craft a visually appealing and intuitive UI/UX design
Building an intuitive, pixel-perfect, and easy-to-navigate UI/UX design is the key to success for any website. UI/UX is the first point of contact for customers visiting your website; therefore, it must be visually appealing and highly responsive.
Based on the wireframes developed in the earlier phase, you should create mockups for your website. Design a logo, color palette, theme, etc., and create other UI elements. You should also focus on providing the next-level digital experience to your customers. A well-thought-out UX design will help you to achieve your business goals.
Here are some tips you should follow while building the UI/UX design of your auction website:
- Try to keep the navigation as simple as possible. Avoid multiple dropdown menus and nested lists.
- Focus on incorporating high-quality future product images as it boosts the user experience.
- Provide reliable payment options and an easy-to-find refund policy to establish trust.
- Try using the bright color palette and highlighting the buttons, making it easier for users to take the next step.
- Create a separate section for ‘Daily Deals’ or ‘Deal of the Day’ to keep the user engaged and interested in your products.
Step 7: Finalize the tech stack for building an auction website
If you opt for custom auction website development, you will need to finalize the technologies that will go into building the solution. These technologies collectively will form the tech stack for your auction website.
The technology stack ensures the functionality, scalability, and security of your online auction platform. For those of you who aren’t very familiar with the components of a tech stack, here’s a quick explanation of the same.
- Back-end technologies: Node.js or Ruby on Rails for building the server-side logic.
- Database: MySQL or MongoDB for storing item data and auction information.
- Payment gateway: Stripe, Braintree, or PayPal for processing payments.
- Messaging API: Twilio, SendGrid, or Mailchimp for sending notifications and messages.
- Analytics: Google Analytics or Mixpanel for tracking user behavior and performance metrics.
- Cloud services: Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure for hosting the application and scaling as needed.
Step 8: Assemble a team of developers
With the design and tech stack finalized, it’s time to assemble a team of developers who will take the project forward. You can either have an in-house team or hire dedicated developers. Here are vital activities that will take place during the first meeting with the developers:
- Sharing product vision and requirements: Developers must understand the vision behind developing the product and the associated business goals.
- Choosing the suitable development method: Waterfall, agile, rapid application development, spiral, etc., are some of the popular ones.
- Setting up a project management tool: It will help you quickly organize and track various tasks involved in website development. Jira, Trello, Zoho are some commonly used project management tools for auction website development.
- Create a backlog of tasks: Create a list of tasks the developer should perform during auction website development. It helps them to plan the sprints appropriately.
- Configure collaboration tools: To stay connected with various remote team members, configure collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Discord, Google Meet, etc.
- Set code quality standards: Layout the software development best practices that every developer should follow to ensure that the final product is of the highest quality.
Step 9: Develop an MVP
Rather than going for the final product from the beginning, developing a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) for the auction website is recommended. Just list the core features of your auction website and develop an MVP incorporating those functionalities.
The focus is to establish a product-market fit and lower the time-to-market. MVP will also allow you to incorporate feedback received from the customers. You can use customer suggestions or feedback to make your final product more finished, robust, scalable, and secure. Lastly, MVP will lower the risk factor and allow you time to refine the product before the final launch.
Step 10: Conduct rigorous testing
Before releasing your product to the end customers, you must conduct rigorous testing. You can use various testing techniques such as unit testing, integration testing, white-box testing, black-box testing, alpha testing, beta testing, regression testing, etc.
QA teams should perform a combination of manual and automated testing. It will help you discover the loopholes in your product, i.e., bugs, errors, or any security issues. QA teams can pass those issues to the developer team, who can work on them before the final launch. So, testing helps you to minimize the risk of deployment and ensures the highest quality of products.
Step 11: Release MVP
Once the MVP passes several tests discussed in the earlier phase, it’s time to release the first version of your auction website. Set up the web server and make your auction website live. If you want to release the MVP to only a certain number of people, you should provide them access via email or collaboration tools. Otherwise, you can make the website public.
Releasing the MVP in the market is not the end of the auction website development. You must keep analyzing the user needs and develop additional features if required. Continuous enhancement is the only way to stay relevant in a massive market for a long time.
These were the eight significant steps on how to build an auction website. However, the question is, what is the cost to build an auction website after following the above-mention steps? Let’s try to decode that in our next section.
How much does it cost to build an auction website?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when calculating the cost of building a website related to an auction. It depends on various factors such as the list of features, geographical location of developers, size and complexity of the application, additional functionality, number of developers working on it, etc. So, you can’t define an exact number, but you can always come up with a rough estimate.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the auction website development (fully customized solution) cost based on the approximate time each activity may take. Here, we have taken the hourly developer rate as $50, considering the average hourly rate of regions like the USA, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
|Features||Time (Hours)||Cost (As per $50/hour)|
|Authorization and Authentication||60-70||$3000-$3500|
|Product Search and Filters||90-100||$4500-$5000|
- So, the average cost to build an auction website (fully customized solution) is roughly between $59,500-$72,250.
- If you opt for simple WordPress-based solutions, it would cost you around $1000-$1500 and $800-$1000 per month for maintenance.
- Creating a medium-complexity auction site that works for a particular niche or country would cost you $7000-$10,000 and $1000-$1200 per month for maintenance.
Build your auction website with a team that knows how to get the job done!
Building an auction website, especially one that is fully customizable and can give the competitors a run for their money, is not a piece of cake. It requires meticulous planning, pinpoint execution in development, and a pixel-perfect, visually appealing design.
In this blog, we devised a step-by-step plan to simplify your job. However, you’ll require an experienced, skillful, and knowledgeable technology partner to complete this complicated task. That’s where SIMFORM can be your ideal extended team. Our certified and experienced developers have a track record of building high-performing websites, especially auction websites.
With a solid understanding of technical needs, we at SIMFORM have helped one of our clients build a robust, secure, and fully-functional auction platform. We also implemented the CI/CD pipelines to help the client achieve 500 weekly commits in less than two months. As a result, the client could optimize its resources and lower the spending on operations.
Similarly, we can help you develop a fully-functional and customized auction website that yields you the highest returns on your investment. Connect with our industry experts and get a free technical consultation for your auction website project.