Online auctions is a form of shopping that became a thing when eBay was created, back in 1995. Even though they may not be the core of eBay business anymore, online auctions are still very popular on the web.

Just like for any other form of commerce, buyers involved in an online auction use strategies to get more for less. To understand why last minute bidding - aka sniping - is so popular in the world of expert bidders, read on...

Online auction rules

Each auction website has its own set of rules. Even though some introduced subtelties that make them unique, the general idea is always the same.

A seller sets up a sale. Beside describing the item up for sale, she also sets a few key characteristics: a starting price, a date and time for the end of the sale, and a bid step.

Buyers have until the sale end to submit their offers. These offers must be higher than the currently highest offer. The difference between their offer and the current highest offer must be at least the value of the bid step, or bid increment. For instance, if the highest bid is $10 and the bid step is $1, then an interested buyer must offer at least $11 ($10 + $1).

This is auction sales in a nutshell. Online auctions add a twist to the basics: auction websites handle the bidding competition for you. What you submit to the auction website is not your actual bid, but the maximum value that you are prepared to bid on that item. What is publicly displayed is your current bid. If a competitor outbids it, then the auction website automatically raises your bid, up to your limit. This mechanism is called automatic bidding.

Prices go up

Automatic bidding is a specificity of the online auctions. That specificity actually brings a fun aspect to the transaction. Curious to discover what is the secret maximum value set by this other buyer? All you have to do is raise your bid and see if automatic bidding kicks in. Gradually, incrementally, you can raise your bid to reveal your competitor secret maximum bid. Once you have reached it, your outbid competitor receives an alert from the auction website. It is now your competitor turn to play with your secret maximum value.

This is how a bidding war starts. This is how a buyer turns into a player. This is how prices are pushed all the way up. All in good fun.

The winning strategy

Automatic bidding turns auctions into a game. The thing is that not everybody feels like a gamer, especially when real money is involved. Or when your are emotionally involved with the item you are trying to buy.

This is why strategies were designed to work around bidding wars, avoid them and maintain low prices.

The most efficient of those is called sniping. It consists in placing your bid in the last minute of the sale. Too late for you, or your competitors, to start playing the bidding war game. That is the main purpose of this strategy.

As an added bonus, leaving the auction with a lower price and a low number of bids until the very end of the sale helps keeping it below the radar. Sales with a high activity tend to attract attention and to bring even more competitors around the table.

The need for automation

Sniping - ie waiting for the last minute to place your bid - also comes with some major drawbacks. First, you need to make yourself available at exactly the right time. Second, any technical issue such as an unreliable internet connection, will have catastrophic consequences.

All these problems can all be tackled thanks to automation. If a reliable software, running online on a reliable server, could place the bid for you, then you could set it up and forget about it. And it could be more accurate than you could ever be.

Well, these softwares do exist. And Snippy's is one of them.

Snippy's, the Delcampe sniper

Snippy's is an online sniper for the Delcampe auction website that operates since 2007. Because it is online, you do not need to download anything. Your own computer is not involved in the bid placement process. It can be switched off entirely while Snippy's handles the bid placement for you.

All you need to do is tell Snippy's what item you want to bid on, the maximum amount you are ready to bid and how many seconds before the sale end you want your bid to be placed. Then you can forget about it. Snippy's can monitor the sale and alert you if the minimum bid becomes higher than your offer. When the time comes, Snippy's accurately and reliably places your bid.

Pricing

The general idea is that you are charged only if you win the sale. In that case, the price is roughly 1% of the item final price.

Now for the fine prints... Snippy's uses credits called snippies. When you win an auction, 1 snippy is debited from your account for every €10 of the item final price. If the final price is €10 or less, you pay 1 snippy. If the final price is between €10 and €20, you pay 2 snippies, etc...

You can buy 50 snippies for €5 on Paypal. They come at a slightly lower price if you buy in bulk.

You have to buy snippies in advance. Before setting up a mission, you have to have enough snippies in your account to pay for the snipe, should you win the sale for your maximum bid.

The free trial offer consists in offering 5 free snippies with every newly created account. Those 5 snippies allow you to set up a mission on an item for up to €50. Or 5 missions on items for less than €10 each. Or anything in between. Because snippies are not debited unless you win the sale, the free trial offer is virtually unlimited!