Every organisation has surplus. Traditionally, the management of this surplus has been a burden for organisations. Today, however, your organisation can turn your surplus into a high impact function that maximises value and helps you achieve strategic goals.
Liquidity Services regularly conducts comprehensive surveys to better understand our customers and to help organisations improve their surplus management. Our most recent outreach surveyed over 3,500 registered bidders on our various online marketplaces for surplus assets. Buyers of virtually every asset category were represented, from biopharmaceuticals equipment to transportation assets to retail goods.
Analyzing these survey results, we discovered three key strategies that encourage prospective bidders to bid on your surplus and keep current bidders bidding. (More bids, of course, equals higher recovery). Your organisation must reach buyers through their preferred channels; deliver superior customer experiences; and provide comprehensive, accurate information about surplus you sell.
Since the reverse supply chain is by definition a non-core business function, however, your organisation may lack the time and resources required to deliver in these crucial areas. The ideal solution is often to select a trusted partner to manage your surplus. The right partner will maximise total value while requiring little time and effort from your organization, freeing up resources to focus on your forward-flow business.
1. Construct a Strong Online Presence
The more potential buyers that view your surplus, the more bids you’ll get and the higher recovery you’ll achieve. Effective marketing drives views for your online auctions. But how should you focus your marketing strategy to optimise exposure? In our survey, buyers said that internet search results, online advertising, and email marketing methods were most effective in getting them to bid on online auctions. Online methods get results because they drive prospective buyers to auction listings in just one click.
A robust search engine optimization (SEO) strategy helps ensure that your auction appears in online search results when buyers scour the internet for the kind of surplus you’re selling. Look for a provider that leverages SEO best practices.
Pay-per-click and display advertising methods are cost-efficient ways to attract buyers searching online for surplus like yours. Ads promoting your auctions on industry-specific inventory listing websites target browsing surplus buyers. Look for a partner that leverages both methods to generate awareness for your auctions.
Promotional emails, targeted by industry and asset category, grab buyers’ interest and convince them to place bids. Your partner should make email part of its core marketing strategy and continually optimise its approach through marketing and design best practices as well as frequent A/B testing. By leveraging a multichannel online marketing approach, your partner will expose your surplus to the maximum amount of targeted buyers, driving bids and recovery.
2. Demolish Pricing Objectives Through Excellent Buyer Experiences
Making buyers aware of your surplus is only half the battle. Many prospective buyers view auctions but never place bids. The main reason this happens, according to our survey, is because the asset or shipping cost is too high.
Fortunately, your organisation can eliminate these price objections and achieve the recovery you deserve. As our previous research noted, buyers of surplus – like buyers of virtually anything – consider “price” and “quality” directly proportional. The higher the perceived quality of an item or experience, the more buyers are willing to pay.
“Quality” for surplus buyers extends beyond the assets being sold. It entails the entire buying experience on your online auction site. Buyers desire a positive experience every time they visit your site, from browsing to placing a bid to payment.
Our previous survey found that buyers most highly value the following features. Make sure your partner’s site experience includes them all.
- “Watch List” for assets buyers might want later.
- User dashboard for comprehensive view of account information.
- “My activity” portal to track buying and bidding activity.
Your partner’s online marketplace should provide an easy way to search for assets and multiple purchase options including open auction, sealed bid auction, make an offer, and “buy it now”.
Surplus buyers also value superior customer service before, during, and after their purchase. Our previous survey discovered that buyers’ top customer service expectations when purchasing surplus are:
- Availability to answer questions or resolve problems in a timely manner
- Accurate, detailed product listings
- Knowledgeable representatives
- Human response (as opposed to automated)
Through creating excellent buyer experiences, your partner will eliminate pricing objections and get buyers to bid more frequently. Look for a partner with a dedicated buyer customer support staff to provide these and other features on a global scale.
Your partner’s support personnel should be able to answer any question or solve any challenge that buyers have. And be sure your provider has a proven dispute-resolution process to smoothly resolve all conflicts between buyers and sellers.
Through creating excellent buyer experiences, your partner will eliminate pricing objections and get buyers to bid more frequently, maximizing recovery for your surplus.
3. Reinforce Buyer Relationships by Providing Comprehensive Information
It’s much easier and cheaper to keep a current customer than to get a new one. You can keep bidders and buyers of your surplus coming back by removing common obstacles to bidding. The top reason why buyers who have previously bid don’t bid again, according to our survey, is lack of detailed asset information.
What information about your surplus do buyers need before placing bids? Our research found that buyers most highly value the following details:
- Asset condition
- Detailed description
- Photos and videos
- Asset age
- Original price
- Original manufacturer brand
- How many others are bidding for the asset
Make sure your provider always collects as much of the information above as possible and appropriate, and communicates it to buyers via detailed listings.
Another factor that influences buyers’ bid decisions is your organization’s “rating” as a surplus seller. Are buyers’ reviews of your goods and the experience generally positive or negative? How long does it take you to arrange shipping or pickup? How often do you cancel an order after selling? This information, often available online, is highly important to buyers making bidding decisions. An expert partner will ensure a positive seller rating for your organisation by providing the superb customer experiences detailed above.
The management of surplus offers your organisation opportunities to generate ongoing value that fuels your core business. Yet organisations are understandably challenged to achieve appropriate levels of recovery for surplus they sell.
Your organisation can maximise recovery for your surplus by simply driving as many bids as possible. This article has provided proven strategies, based on our extensive research of surplus buyers, which your organisation can leverage to increase bids and generate the recovery you deserve. Given the time and resources required to provide all of these features, you may consider outsourcing your surplus management to a trusted, expert partner. The right provider will go beyond simply selling your assets and deliver the superior marketing, site experience, customer service, and merchandising solutions your organisation needs to maximise recovery while freeing up resources so you can focus on your core business.