The Importance of Notifications for Auction eCommerce

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The Importance of Notifications for Auction eCommerce

Configurable Notifications Are Key

Auction eCommerce is also referred to as a marketplace auction eCommerce or a classified auction eCommerce, as well as an e-auction. No matter what it’s called, though, it is a necessity that the platform has highly configurable notifications and alerts. That way, the end user can experience a very lightweight interaction with the platform but also receive alerts when they would like to get a notification.

Typically, this would be around searches that they've done that they want to save. And a lot of times it could be referred to as an in-stock notification, if they want to subscribe to something or see when something comes back in stock, or when an item comes out for auction that matches their criteria.

Some sites will have clever naming conventions, as well. For example, if they're selling trailers, one of our clients called it a trailer scout. Or you might have a truck and call it a truck scout. For houses, it might be called a housing helper.

It’s extremely valuable, not just to subscribe to a saved search, but also to get updates and notifications on popular, recent, favorite, or featured items of that type that we can use machine learning and AI-based algorithms to drive information about similar auctions, based on behavior of the user, into their mailbox at their preferred frequency.

It could be daily, weekly, monthly, and they can receive information about some of the upcoming auctions that might be interesting to them so that they can get drawn back into the ecosystem to approve those or click on those and go into detail.

The idea is that it can be marketed as a unique feature of the platform because it’s helpful to people to get notifications whenever certain items are available for auction. Being able to do this in an automated way is very helpful for the auction itself as well because auctions are all about getting interested parties bidding.

If you can get engaged users who want to find that item and are searching for it, and you can notify them immediately whenever something comes out, then you can get the competitiveness of those bids happening, which is really the name of the game.


Get Notified for Each Phase of the Bidding Process

In addition to that type of notification, it's also really helpful to have notifications for different phases of the bidding process, so some bids/auctions require engaging in a certain way, and there may be detailed steps that are necessary for each of the bidders to complete.

You can have this with some of the different auction types, such as reserve, Dutch, or even reverse bidding websites. This is where the sellers are the ones adjusting; it retains the whole concept of keeping someone engaged in an auction by keeping them up to date with what they need to do next to stay involved in the process.

Therefore, ideally, you can let them know in advance that something is about to happen, and what will occur if they don't take action within a set time. It can also be really helpful to share advice with the end user based on experience with the platform, i.e., “Here are some tips and recommendations as you’re interacting with the auction.”

email notification

Furthermore, it's really important to let the user know if they're running low on funds, if they have to purchase funds in advance, if they need to put money in escrow, or if they need to take some kind of a step to verify their identity or business entity, get their credit checked with for the business entity they are purchasing on behalf of, etc.

In any of these types of scenarios, we want to get these out of the way upfront. Therefore, sending these notifications can really help keep it in front of them to make sure that they are engaging in the process.

To make the process as effortless as possible, the notifications need to be seamless, so that they're not just receiving them via email, but whenever they log into the site, they get a visual cue that, “hey, you have an unread message; you need to take action on this.”

Having different levels of notifications that give visual or audial cues is also helpful, so users know what’s most important and what needs to be addressed.

These things could be that they need to take a look at an auction they were bidding on, because it is about to be out of time, or that they need to complete this step in order to stay engaged with this auction process. 


Buyer and Seller Interactions

buyer and seller interactions through the auction platform

In addition, sellerss might need to answer a question or interact with the buyers on your custom auction website.

A lot of times there might be questions, or there may be comments that are made, and the seller needs to interact and respond back in order to get an optimal showing. So being able to do that in a timely fashion is dependent on the quality of the notifications going to the seller.

And in a marketplace, this can improve the quality and effectiveness of the marketplace itself. If there are a lot of different auctions happening and different auth sellers are participating, then you can get a widely varying spectrum of quality.

You can notify everyone that this is how they need to interact, this is how they need to respond, and then it's actually really important that they respond in a timely manner, and to notify them and help remind them how to behave and execute.


Fulfillment Notifications

In addition, it's also key that once someone has won an auction, or if they haven't won the auction, they receive that information too, so that they know what the outcome was. If an item is purchased and won in the auction, then it needs to be fulfilled and so sending out fulfillment notifications, just like you would traditionally expect with an eCommerce application, is also really important.

In some cases, for really large items or unique items that are sold through the auction eCommerce platform, there may be a scenario where it's really expensive to ship or shipping has to be arranged outside of the auction price, or possibly there isn't any shipping, like for a house.

There also needs to be a closing process or there needs to be some kind of a detailed process after the auction is complete. So just because the auction is complete doesn't mean everything is done and there's a lot of value that we can bring to the end transaction to both the buyer and the seller by enabling the notifications and the detailed steps in the process.

Ultimately, this can get really high fidelity for standard shipments and fulfillment where we can actually provide notifications and pick and pack slips. We can help distribute the orders across different warehouses or distribution centers, drop ship centers, etc.

We can also help with automating complex processes around large purchases to make sure there's some form of escrow of the funds and verify that the funds were set into an escrow, or some kind of earnest money is made available.

That way, the rest of the auction process can proceed. Similarly, as the completion of the fulfillment or the completion of any closing process or final verification of items is done, we can help the buyer and the seller go through those steps.

There may be multiple steps of fulfillment, shipping, receipt of the shipment, inspection, verification, and then release of the funds, for example, and so if all those steps are in the process it's helpful to let everyone, i.e., the buyer and seller, know where we're at in the process, who we’re waiting on, and then make sure whoever is waiting on that receives that notification that, “hey, you need to go ahead and do this step in order to keep the process moving ahead."


Ensuring the Customer Is Satisfied

Other than that, as far as the notifications are concerned, it's also really helpful to be able to deal with Return Merchant/Merchandise Authorizations, or RMAs, returned Virgin authorization, merchandise authorization, or other similar aspects like customer support, any quality issues or concerns, and just be able to make sure that the end user is satisfied with the items.

If they aren't, if they have any issues, something out damaged or stolen, or it wasn't the right item, etc., then having a process and then being able to manage the notifications as that occurs, so this could include making that option available to the user and then making sure that the user has the ability to make a request as it's processing along—“okay, we see that the user sees that the shipment was received.” Or it could start when the product was received, the request was approved to send the item back, etc. For example:

  • “Here's a shipping label, put the shipping label on the shipment”— “it was received.”
  • “We've approved your return request. Here's a refund.”
ensuring customer satisfaction with notifications and review process

You can deliver these or anything that makes sense for your business model, which we can incorporate into those notifications during auction website development. Furthermore, if it's an alternative process or really specific process, it's quite possible that maybe there was an inspection on a home that was auctioned, or a vehicle that was purchased might be seen in person and it failed to pass a contingent inspection of some kind.

Well, then there needs to be an arrangement for resolving that, and if it's unresolvable, then being able to deal with the return process again.

So those are all notification types that that we've seen that can be really critical to the business, and automating things for the business, leveraging the power of self service, and some just really intelligent, well thought out workflows to notify the users as they progress through the process.

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Clarity Can Help

Clarity’s eCommerce auction platform has a robust and capable notification system that can be configured to each business’ and customer’s needs. We’d be happy to discuss this further with you and answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out and receive a free demo or no-obligation price quote.

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