What is a No-Floor Auction?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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No-floor auctions are auctions that do not include the option of bidding from the floor during the course of the event. There are a number of different auction types that exclude floor bidding, using other strategies that allow interested parties to make an offer for each item featured during the auction. Considered a more discreet approach, this type of auction activity ensures the privacy of each bidder, since only the auctioneer knows who has bid on a given item, and the amount that was offered.

One example of a no-floor auction is the silent auction. Charities and other non-profit organizations often favor this approach when holding a fundraising event. All items up for bid are displayed in a common area. Each registered bidder is provided with a coded notepad or set of loose sheets, and a pen or pencil. When a bidder is interested in a particular item, he or she writes a figure that is above the specified minimum bid on a page of the pad, detaches the paper, and inserts the bid into the slotted box found next to the item. At the end of the auction, the auctioneer opens each box, identifies the highest bidder, and announces who has won the item.


Another less common but very effective type of no-floor auction is a mail auction. This approach allows registered bidders to submit bids using the postal service. Bidders receive a catalog of items up for bid, complete with pictures, a description, and the minimum acceptable bid for each item. Bidders fill out an enclosed form to indicate which item or items are of interest, and enter a bid price for each item on the list. The high bidder is notified by return mail, along with instructions on how to submit payment.

The advent of the Internet has led to a new approach to the no-floor auction. Using a secure web site, it is possible to hold auctions around the clock. While many auction sites allow anyone to view the items currently available for bid, there is usually a registration process that must be completed before an individual can actually participate in the bidding process. Some online auctions are closed, only allowing those who are invited to participate in a particular auction.

With the online no-floor auction, all approved bidders are free to submit bids up to the official end time of the auction. Many online auctions allow all bidders to see the amount of the current high bid, but do not reveal the identity of the individual bidders. At the end of the auction, the high bidder is notified, and payment is rendered according to the terms specified by the seller.

One of the benefits of a no-floor auction is that this approach often keeps the process orderly and relatively free of any type of potential issues between bidders. While some people thrive on the competition of a live auction where bids are made openly from the floor, others find the no-floor approach to be simpler, quicker, and just as satisfying in the end.



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