Who Needs eBay When You Have WP Auctions?

wpauctionslogoAbout two weeks ago, I was contacted by the lead developer of the WP Auctions plugin for WordPress asking if I’d take a look at his plugin. Considering my distaste for Ebay, I decided to give this plugin a spin and write a review. Stay tuned as at the end of this review, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of this plugin.

Synopsis:

To make a long story short, WP Auctions enables you to host your own auctions allowing you to keep all of the profit resulting from the auction. No more sellers fees! The plugin costs $39.99 and is licensed under the GPL.

Support:

Support is handled in a way I have not seen before. If users encounter an error, they are told to report it on the Help Page. As errors are dealt with comments are deleted which seems a bit crazy considering there is no way to tell what has been dealt with in the past. Although this does help keep the error reporting area clean. Users also have a way to request features via the feature request page.

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold:

Plugin installation/activation was simple. Once activated, a new menu group called WP Auctions is created on the left hand navigation menu. This is where you’ll find the links to manage, add, and configure auctions.

configuration

The general settings for WP Auctions allow me to give my auction title a name, select the currency that the auctions will run in, provide an email address to be notified of when a bid is placed on an item, a link to any eBay feedback I might want to show to the public, how many auctions to display in the widget and whether everyone or only registered members can place bids.

The next group of options deal with the payment and shipping options. There are three different methods supported by WP Auctions. Either PayPal, Bank, or Mailing Address. Obviously, if using PayPal, that is where the auction winners cash will go. Bank details is used to provide information on where to wire the transfer to and mailing address is self explanatory.

That last bit of configuration revolves around the look and style of the plugin. Out of the box, WP Auctions supports 6 styles if you include the default. Additional styles will be available to be purchased at some point in the future. I can tell the widget to show auctions either in a graphical format or a standard list format. Last but not least, if no auctions are ongoing, I can specify HTML that is displayed to take it’s place instead of an empty box.

Auction Creation Process:

Creating an auction is as easy as configuring the plugin. The process is split up into three separate sections. Details, Shipping and Optional features. The auction details describe the title, description, image, starting price, duration and payment method of the auctions. Shipping details enables you to specify how much the shipping cost will be as well as where you are willing to ship to and from.

auctiondetails

The optional features area provides the Buy It Now option, extra images and whether you would like to show the auction in an AJAX popup or direct folks to a post or page. No need to be worried about managing multiple auctions as the management page is laid out as if you were moderating comments. So it should feel natural.

One of the cool aspects of WP Auctions is that they provide a Live Auctions page where purchasers of the plugin can register their blog so that when they create an auction, it shows up on this page. Just another way to get more traffic to your auctions.

Auction Display:

In order to display the auctions, you need to set the WP Auctions widget to display in the sidebar of your choosing. As mentioned in the creation process, you can also point people to a particular post or page where the auction will be displayed. Here is what the widget looks like using the default skin on a fresh install of WordPress.

widgetauction

One thing I like about this particular widget is the fact that it provides an easy way to subscribe to the RSS feed related to that particular auction. One thing I noticed with the AJAX popup window is that when I wanted to close it, I kept searching in the top right corner to close the window when in fact, the close link is located to the right of center. Possibly a UI issue as I expect the close button to be in that corner. It is for everything else.

Final Thoughts:

So after playing around with WP Auctions, I’m pretty impressed that using WordPress and this plugin, you can completely bypass the need to use something like eBay to auction off an item. Granted, you won’t have nearly the amount of eyeballs to see the item, you’ll get to keep all the profits and the only person you’ll pay seller fees to is yourself. I’m also impressed with the fact that overall, the auctioning process is simple as is auction management. Limiting the electronic fund processor to PayPal will be a turn off to some, but that is how most electronic transfers of money are handled these days. In the end, this is definitely a plugin I can recommend to others looking for a way to auction items from their WordPress powered site.

Want A Free Copy?:

So all you have to do to qualify to win a free copy of this plugin is to comment on this blog post. Tell me your thoughts, what you’d use the plugin for or use this as an opportunity to ask questions as the plugin author will be monitoring the comment section to answer them. In the next few days, I’ll place the comment ID’s into a random number picker and choose the winner who will receive one free copy of WP Auctions.

17 Comments


  1. Sounds like a great plug-in. The big problem of course will be eyes. If your blog gets tons of visitors, then this will surely be a hit. If you are like most of us, with mediocre viewership, then it’s hard to stay away from the gazillions of visitors that eBay gets every day.

    That said, if I win a copy, I’ll happily install it.

    Tom

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  2. I am SO glad to learn about this plugin! Our Administrative Council at my community college hosts an online auction every year to raise money for our scholarship fund. Every year it gets larger and raises more money – GOOD THING. Each year it gets larger and a bit harder to manage online using photo galleries and cobbled-together webpages and scripts – NOT SO GOOD THING.

    Now that we have WPMU installed, this plugin would be a great way to run our auction! Getting the plugin free would also cut our costs so even MORE money would go to the scholarship fund!

    I am so happy to know about this one. Makes me continue to think that there is nothing WordPress cannot do.

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  3. Looks very promising from your review. I do like the widget auction function that makes it easier to place a live auction on the front page without cluttering up auctions with content. It looks much better than the phpBay.com script that just performs an ebay/wordpress affiliate link. I also like the capacity of hosting and running my own auctions.

    I’m going to seriously consider implementing this script in the new version of BazaarCatalog.com (a non-profit group that supports the less fortunate).

    One question I would have in the options settings is if you turn on the “Buy it now” option… once the auction is live and someone makes the starting bid… does the “buy it now” button disappear with the first bid, or does it stay up until the auction bid prices rises above (or near) the “buy it now” price? (I hope that wasn’t confusing… it makes perfect sense to me… :)

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  4. @Benjamin – The “Buy it now” function does not disappear once a bid has been placed. However, if you set a “Buy it now” price and the bidding goes above then you may let the bid price go up and disable the buy it now price from the backend of your blog.

    There is also the option to set only a “buy it now” price without having it go to auction bidding at all.

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  5. I have a few specific questions if the author is watching. I had to implement an auction for in-house use, and needed several different types of account. In one category, and I use that loosely, because I ended up having to create a whole separate instance for it, we needed the ability to transfer items at no cost. Basically, it was just transferring equipment such as a monitor or printer from one department to another, so, it was a first come first serve with no cost. The other category was just a traditional auction. So I guess my question is can you create different top level categories that only allow transfer, at zero cost, and have separate sub categories, like monitors etc.
    I would then create a separate traditional category with sub categories, for a traditional auction.
    I would love a copy by the way :)

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  6. had a quick glance at the plugin page, still 2 questions open:

    – how about authentication? I mean whats stopping random people to sign up and bid? The verification process lies completely with me, right?
    – how much ‘overhead’ does the plugin add in terms of DB calls… just curios to know about the performance as I’d like to know up to which ‘size’ I can scale the thing… in terms of how many visitors, bidders, etc…

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  7. Sorry for my english (i’m french) but the plugin support accents ? (é,à,ç, …)

    It’ seems to be a great one in all case :)

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  8. Things I would love to see added or questions answered are:

    Google Checkout (Paypal seems to be always raising their fees)
    This ability to “automate” the auctions. (Example: For me to cue up a bunch of auction items one after the other. Once one auction is over, the next auction begins. This would also allow you to feature “upcoming” auctions that aren’t live yet.)
    Does the auction “close” time get extended with last minute bids? I like how the plugin will email bidders saying they have been outbid, but will the auction extend in order to give participants a chance to rebid?

    I also like ovidiu’s questions, especially about the verification of accounts.

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  9. @ovidiu: Regarding verification, the plugin has 2 “modes”. In the first instance you can allow anyone who likes to place a bid on the auction. You have the option to delete bids you think may be dodgy from the auction backend, in which case the next bid in line reverts to being the winner of the auction. You also have the option of restricting bidding to users who are registered with your blog (i.e. have a WordPress account). You can choose to moderate these users through WordPress user administration and apply any verification process you wish.

    Regarding performance the plugin is designed to be as lightweight as possible. The popup uses AJAX calls to refresh its data so that the whole page doesn’t have to be refreshed. Besides the actual bid placing, most of the other DB calls are fine grained reads so it should scale quite nicely.

    Hope this helps

    Hope this helps.

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  10. Pretty cool plugin. Can the users create aunctions, or simply the admin ?
    I would use it if users can create their own aunction on my website.

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  11. @Francois – At the moment, you can only add and administer auctions if you’re an admin on the blog (minimum level 8).

    We considered opening it up, but if you reduce the level people will be able to amend and delete each other’s auctions and mess with their bids. In order to do it properly we’d need to assign an “owner” to each auction .. hmm .. I’ll add it to our “requested features” list so we can think about it properly and work through all the possibilities.

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  12. So today, I’ve gone through the random number picker between 1-7 which is the total number of unique comments published on this post. Comment number 4 which is Danny G Smith was chosen. What I did was close my eyes and just clicked the Get Random button a bunch of times. Congratulations Danny, Hyder will be in touch with you to get you a copy of the plugin and thanks to everyone who commented on the review. I hope you all found it helpful in some way.

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  13. I’m thinking that this might be just the ticket for local area auctions. Then the “fewer eyes” issue is less of an issue and you can promote locally.

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  14. This is just the plug in that I have been looking for. Is the functionality limited to WP blogs or can it be used with other blogging interfaces, like Weebly? Is installing the plug in as simple as pasting code onto a blog editor or is it more complex than that?

    I would really enjoy a copy if the plug in is compatible with Weebly.

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  15. @Enoch Woodhouse – Sorry Enoch, it has to be used on a self hosted WordPress blog.

    However, we are working on a solution where everyone can use it. Should be releasing it soon. Stay subscribed to WP Tavern for the news.

    @Jeff – We’ll give you an exclusive if you want it ;-)

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  16. Pretty excited about this plugin. It may turn out to be just what I need. I want lengthier auctions because I want to offer things that are fairly rare. I’m going to give it a whirl once I figure out where I want to set it up.

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