Online Auctions: Site organization and interactivity

Online auction sites provide shoppers the opportunity to discover rare finds, exceptional bargains or useful items, all with the click of a mouse. E-bay, eBid, OnlineAuction, OZtion and Overstock are currently the top five online auction sites of 2010. Four of the five sites offer free services and OnlineAuction charges users $8 per month.

Each of these Web sites offers users a similar experience. Upon coming to the site, most recent posts or new items are featured with accompanying thumbnail images. After logging in, featured items often include products related to previous purchases or searches made by the user. Site visitors can navigate thousands of listings with the search feature. Items are then displayed with a small description. Users can bid on any entry within a certain timeframe.

In looking at the variety of services offered by the top five auction sites, each site has a unique combination of features. Some of the sites offer private auctions, others allow extra picture options, and some of the Web sites include wanted ads and gift cards. But one thing offered across the board for all five sites is the feedback and response option.

This is where interactivity comes in. Buyers and sellers are able to engage in a dialogue.  Buyers rate sellers and leave comments about the product and their experience with the product. Other buyers can then add to those comments—agreeing or disagreeing with previous ratings. The seller is able to view the comments and the feedback remains visible for future site visitors. This kind of open dialogue contributes to a sense of site reliability—especially for OnlineAuction, which is the only site of the top five that does not allow comments to be revised or deleted. This interactive feedback system allows users to collaborate and help one another in the online shopping process, encouraging further reviews and often enhancing the popularity of the Web site.

More information about online auction sites can be found here.

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