Online auctions offer efficiencies, says Show Me State public purchaser
For a variety of reasons, the city of Independence, Mo., has come to rely on online auctions to dispose of surplus property, used police cruisers and other items.
“We haven’t staged an in-person, live auction for the past 4 years,” says Mary Stone, who is the city’s purchasing manager. “Online is the way to go,” says Stone, who has been Independence’s purchasing manager for the past 7 years.
“Online is much more efficient — we are able to move our property quickly through our surplus system, and get it disposed of, as opposed to storing it for, say, a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual live auction. We don’t have the storage facilities to do that,” says Stone.
The city is staging online auctions continuously, adds Stone. “We have something for auction out there almost all the time. The city disposes of a variety of products via auction.”
What’s up for bid at an Independence municipal online auction? “The merchandise varies a lot, but one of the big categories that we’ve had during the past 6 months or so has been used police vehicles — we have replaced 20 patrol cars, and the old ones have all been auctioned — and obsolete vehicles are very conducive to the online system,” says Stone.
The online setup attracts bidders from a wider area than a live auction could attract, says Stone. “We have bidders from many locations, including out of state. The winning bidder will sometimes send a transport truck to pick up the used vehicle or vehicles. We get a wider exposure through the online auctions,” says Stone.
Stone has a couple of criteria for choosing an online auction vendor. “You are always looking for the easiest way to do it. Regarding the vendor’s web site, does the service have a user-friendly web site?” She says using a service that accepts the buyers’ payments and sends the seller the funds funds is another important criteria. “We don’t even have to collect the money; we just get a check.”
The city’s web site has info on its auction setup at the Purchasing Division part of the site at the “Sale of Surplus Property” heading.
To learn more about online auction programs, view procurement-related documents and benefit from the experience of other procurement professionals, the NIGP Resource Library and “PurchIssues” community are two very helpful NIGP member resources. The “PurchIssues” community can be accessed at the Communities section of the NIGP site.