Online Industrial Auctions vs Live Auctions: What’s the Best Option for Selling Industrial Equipment?

Article Written By: Clayton Arnold

The online industrial auctions market is booming today, with great opportunities for organizations to sell used equipment and machinery.

According to a report by TechNavio, the online auction market is poised to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.7% (2021 to 2026). The opportunities for you to sell your surplus equipment will only increase from here on out.

If you are reading this blog, chances are you need to sell used machinery. Running a production/manufacturing facility comes with its own set of challenges, including handling surplus assets. Surplus machinery lying idle on your premises can cost you money.  When you sell these used industrial machinery through an online auction, its actually quite easy to recover funds to add back to your bottom line.

So, how does an online auction fare against a traditional auction? 

Let’s break down the pros and cons of online industrial auctions and live auctions to see which one you should choose.

Online Machinery Auctions: The Pros and Cons

Benefits of Online Industrial Auctions

Online auctions are held over the internet and allow you to control your sale from the comfort of your own office. The process is extremely simple. You would need to provide your auction partner with the details of the sale, such as the asset locations, sale terms, asset titles, descriptions, and pictures. In some cases, you need to add all this information yourself while other partners will take all this information from you and create the sale on your behalf.  

Benefits of Online Industrial Auctions

Online auctions have four distinct benefits for sellers:

  • Low Cost 

The biggest benefit of online industrial auctions is that you can bypass the high costs associated with hosting an in-person auction. You do not have to pay fees for auctioneers. While some online auction platforms charge you to host sales on their platforms, others don’t. When selecting an online industrial auction platform, you need to make sure you research any potential selling fees.

  • Auction Marketing

Before a sale can successfully happen, you need to market the equipment in the sale. Marketing your surplus machinery for a traditional auction can be tricky. Online auctions allow you to have better options for marketing your sale, and in many cases, the auction platform you are using will market the sale on your behalf. By allowing these marketplaces to promote the sale for you, you can reduce your overall costs and reach more buyers to come and bid on your equipment.

  • Greater Impressions

Online auctions give you access to a buyer pool that isn’t limited to your locale. Normally, at a traditional auction, only buyers from around your region are likely to show up. However, an online auction eliminates geographical boundaries and brings buyers to you from anywhere in the world. This drastically increases your chances of getting a successful sale of your surplus equipment.

  •  A Step Towards being Environmentally Friendly

Environmental pollution is a matter of great concern today. Online auctions may help you record your contributions towards environmental well-being in their own way.

The involvement of logistics is reduced when your equipment and buyers don’t have to travel distances for an auction to happen. Fewer vehicle trips save the pollutant equivalent that a traditional auction would produce.

Additionally, the reuse of surplus equipment by the buyer prevents burdening the landfills.

Cons of Online Auctions

There are several cons of online auctions as well; however, they aren’t a major setback.

Cons for sellers include:

  • Additional Services – Some online auction partners do not cover logistical operations, so after a sale has successfully taken place, you may still need to manage everything on the shipping and delivery end.
  • Increased Competition – By hosting a sale online you are exposed to increased competition, as other online auctions are ending at the same time as your sale. When hosting your sale you need to be aware of other similar sales ending at the same date and time and avoid trying to schedule a sale at the same time as your competition. 
  • Basic Understanding of Technology Required – By hosting your industrial auction online you need to have a basic understanding of how to use the auction platform. For some this may require additional training and time to make sure that they understand the ins and outs of the industry.

Live Auctions: The Pros and Cons


Traditional Auction

Live auctions are still the preferred way for many organizations to sell surplus assets, although they may not be the best option. The primary reason is that traditional auctions are a familiar thing. Familiarity provides comfort and a feeling of security. Online auctions are still a relatively newer concept that sellers may not be comfortable with, although the method is completely safe and efficient.

Benefits of Live Auctions

Traditional auctions have three distinct benefits for sellers:

  •  Easier Access to Inspections

Buyers seem to prefer traditional auctions simply because they get to examine the equipment physically. Many traditional buyers believe they must physically inspect an asset before they will bid on it. However, in many cases, online auctions provide buyers with all the information and documentation they may need. 

In addition to the documentation and descriptions, many online auction platforms still allow buyers to schedule inspections of the equipment they wish to learn more about. As technology evolves and buyer behaviors change, the need for physical inspections will continue to decrease.

  •  Networking Opportunities

A traditional auction is a social event where people with similar needs or interests come together for a sale/purchase. This boosts your chances to meet and greet the people in your industry and build a solid network you can tap into when needed.

An online auction is a high-focus event that takes away from the socialization experience that a traditional auction can provide.

  •  Same-Day Deliveries

Since the item on sale is present on the same premises as the buyer, the item sold can be taken home on the very same day. Most buyers who want a quick fix to the issues back at the facility prefer live auctions for this reason.

For the sellers, this may include setting up quick deliveries and keeping the logistics ready for when a sale is complete.

Cons of Live Auctions

Live auctions have quite a few problems, actually:

  • Disrupts core business activities – You have to be physically present to sell your asset or have a representative fulfill all the formalities on the premises.
  • Limited Geographies – You may get buyers only from the local or regional areas, limiting your chances of a successful sale. If you want to sell industrial equipment in an emergency, an online auction is the quicker choice of the two.
  • Higher Costs – Hiring an auctioneer, can be pretty pricey. They require you to pay an upfront fee for all the assets they will be selling, and additional fees such as marketing and advertising fees, and a seller’s premium.
  • Large Collection of Assets – In addition to the other challenges of live auctions, often times you need to have a large amount of equipment and machinery to sell. This means holding onto equipment for longer than you need to just reach the minimum amount needed to host an auction. This leads to higher holding fees, and reduced storage at your facilities.

In today’s digital day and age, online auctions are the superior choice to sell used machinery in the most efficient way possible.

Online vs. Live: Which One is Best for Sellers?

Choosing between online and live auctions can be difficult for some organizations –the decision depends on a few key factors:

  • The expenses you are willing to shoulder to organize an auction
  • How much you are planning to get involved in the auction process
  • Whether you want a global buyer pool or a local buyer for your industrial equipment
  • Whether you require auction marketing services or have plans of your own

Online auctions are hands-down the best choice for the efficient, streamlined, and quick sales of surplus equipment. This is because an online auction can be set up within a matter of hours, and you will still find buyers even at short notice. Additionally with online auctions you are able to find more motivated buyers because of the unlimited geographies. This increase in additional buyers will allow you to recover more value from your used equipment and machinery. 

In Conclusion

Selling surplus industrial equipment is not an easy task. However, with the rise of online auctions, it has not just become easier to look for buyers but also simple to execute the entire process neatly.

Auction partners like Aucto help you conduct online auctions from A to Z without any roadblocks or hassles. Aucto is an online marketplace dedicated to helping you sell industrial assets that you don’t need anymore. The platform aims to establish a circular economy for industrial assets and hopes to reduce the environmental burden on the planet in this way while connecting interested buyers with owners ready to sell.

Ready to learn more about selling industrial equipment on Aucto? Click here to talk with one of our asset recovery specialists

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About the Author

Clayton Arnold

Clayton Arnold is the Marketing Manager at Aucto. Clayton has 10 years of experience working in traditional and digital marketing campaigns. A Mohawk College graduate, Clayton believes in leveraging the latest technology & analytics to foster long-term relationships with clients.