By Cynthia Okoroafor
If online shopping is your go-to mode for purchasing the items you want or need, then there’s a chance you’ve tried participating in the increasingly popular penny auctions, or at least heard of them. You must have seen the advertisements with staggering offers of, “Up to 90% off household appliances, smartphones, computers, clothing, accessories, electronics, and more!” from popular brands and manufacturers you know and love.
However, if you’re yet to come across any such ads or participate in penny auctions, we’re going to give you a quick run through on what they’re all about and why you should probably pay some attention to this growing trend. Afterall, who doesn’t want 90% off their favourite (possibly expensive) item?
Penny auctions are rather famous in a lot of countries abroad. Users register on their preferred penny auction site, buy a “bid package” of their choosing, select an auction, and start bidding. The difference between penny auctions and regular auctions is that there typically isn’t a base price on the items displayed, so bidding starts from zero. Also, the auction price of an item goes up by one penny each time a user places a bid.
In addition, much unlike traditional auctions, penny auctions rely on a timer which resets every time a bid is placed. In traditional auctions, whereas an interested bidder can increase the amount of their bid by however much they choose in order to outbid others and clinch the item as the “highest bidder,” this position in penny auctions is reserved for the person who places the last bid when the clock runs down to zero. The highest bidder wins the right to pay the final auction price for the item.
Speaking of the final auction price, this appears to be the main attraction of penny auctions. Because each bid increases the price by a penny, as the winner of an auction, you could end up paying a considerably nominal final auction price of say $2.58 for an item that would originally cost $150.
Another enticing aspect about e-commerce/retail platforms that use the penny auctions model is the wide range of products they seem to have in their inventory. They seem to have a little bit of everything. The reason most people choose certain online platforms to shop from is the variety that accompanies the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your home.
Combine all of these features – a host of options to choose from, quality items (when you pick a trustworthy platform), super low prices, convenience – and you start to understand why penny auctions may just be the new way for shoppers who are always on the lookout for deep discounts to shop online.
There is also a competitive angle to penny auctions. There’s something about battling it out for your coveted item with a stranger in perhaps another city that injects fun into what might be an otherwise mundane shopping experience.
As we say, “Naija no dey carry last,” so you know it was only a matter of time before Nigerians joined in on the action. The fascinating model of penny auctions is currently piquing interest in Nigeria. One obvious factor is the recent launch of a Nigerian startup penny auctions/e-commerce company called Kobobid.
In its very short time in business, Kobobid has significantly contributed to the growing awareness of penny auctions in the country, even as they introduce new levels to customer service within the e-commerce industry.
According to the platform’s ‘About Kobobid’ page, “We’re a fast-paced bidding website where you can win and purchase some of your favorite, AUTHENTIC items for as little as ONE Kobo by bidding. No, we’re not kidding! And no, we’re not the traditional “going once, going twice” auctions that you may be familiar with. Kobobid is Nigeria’s first foray into penny auctions on a large scale. With our own “kobo auctions,” the vision is to inject some fun and interactiveness into auctions and the Nigerian e-commerce webspace, while providing an alternate way for people to afford otherwise expensive goods.”
‘Kobo Auctions’ are akin to penny auctions, the major difference being the currencies. Social media reviews by users (mostly winners) appear to corroborate the legitimacy of Kobobid’s offerings and entertaining aspect of shopping in the penny auction format. They also marvelled at Kobobid’s uncommon dedication to providing customer satisfaction during every interaction, particularly their speedy door-step deliveries and swift digital transfers of cash and airtime wins.
Our conclusion? If you’re an active and savvy shopper who is also open to a level of gamification in your shopping process, then penny auctions are certainly worth a try. As long as you know what your priorities and limits are, and of course don’t expect to win all the time, you might have just discovered a new and exciting way to shop online.