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  Astro-Auction: Best kept secret and source

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Author Topic:   Astro-Auction: Best kept secret and source
Spacefest
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From: Tucson, AZ USA
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posted 09-18-2009 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Astro Auction, because it is free, never gets so much as a thought or a mention in this forum. But we freely publish our statistics online for all to see, and are the only "house" to do so.

Quietly, we have sold over 2 million dollars worth of goods, have unique items not found ANYWHERE else, and remain the best-kept secret and source of collectibles in the business.

No one has a vested interest: it is not (heavily) advertised, as there is no commission, and dealers and sellers would like to keep it a secret, for there is little competition (one can usually count on acquiring what they bid on) and it is a reliable and relatively inexpensive source of quality material.

There is no sniping, unquestioned authenticity, and negative feedback is investigated and punished.

Kim Poor
www.novaspace.com
www.astro-auction.com
www.AstronautCentral.com
www.spacefest.info

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 09-18-2009 3:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Start charging or temporarily disable your site and the collecting community will better appreciate just how much Asto-Auction has been an asset to this hobby Kim...

Wings4Flight
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posted 09-20-2009 11:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Wings4Flight   Click Here to Email Wings4Flight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kim, I love that Astro-Auction is free but am disappointed that the number of sellers is limited. I don't have a huge inventory of items but I am interested in occasionally selling off one or two things to buy some new more expensive piece. I believe it could be much more successful if collectors like myself with only a few items now and then were allowed to list on Astro-Auction too. Instead I have resorted to online classifieds and message boards for free options.

ilbasso
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posted 09-21-2009 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the comment about the limited number of sellers. I know that you don't want to open the floodgates, but I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to offer occasional goodies from my collection to the space collecting community. Perhaps you could ask people to register with you so that you have some sort of idea who they are and if they are generally trustworthy sources.

I've noticed that a few sellers have posted the same items on both eBay and astro-auction at the same time.

Wings4Flight
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posted 09-21-2009 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Wings4Flight   Click Here to Email Wings4Flight     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You might could limit it to people who have been NovaSpace customers to help prevent an overwhelming number of sellers.

Spacefest
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posted 09-21-2009 12:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed. I also think the free format encourages relisting ad nauseum for some items. I don't have a solution for that.

Kim

teopze
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posted 09-21-2009 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for teopze   Click Here to Email teopze     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, one way would be to 'register' items first and then introduce some limits for a given item. Of course one could ask 'why not to re-registed an item to bypass the limits' ...I think that with so few items it would be relatively easy to track such behavior. It could also form a foundation for a sort of database for many unique items...

...just a thought.

mjanovec
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posted 09-21-2009 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I love the free aspects of Astro Auction, as an occasional seller, I would be happy to pay a nominal fee for each new item listing...perhaps 50 cents or a dollar for each initial listing for each item (with re-listings being free...at least up to a point). The fee money could be used to advertise the site in order to attract new bidders...increasing the business for both Novaspace and sellers alike. The exclusive aspects of the site can be nice to a degree, but having a large group of available bidders is key towards attracting bids. Even though it would mean AA is no longer completely free for sellers, it would still be a MUCH better deal than the fee systems on either eBay or other auction houses...and Kim would reap some well-earned benefits from running the site.

Perhaps the best option to limit endless re-listing of items is instituting a system where a seller could re-list an item (for free) up to three times after the initial selling attempt. (After all, it sometimes takes a few rounds to attract the attention of the right bidder at the right time.) After four listing attempts (the initial paid listing and the three free re-listings), a seller has to do at least one of the following options in order to re-list the item another four times:

  • lower the starting price by at least 10%
  • lower the reserve price by at least 10%
  • add an instant purchase option (or decrease an existing instant purchase price by at least 10%)
  • pay another "new listing" fee
This way, sellers couldn't get around the re-listing rule by simply creating a new listing for each item...unless, of course, they are willing to pay the fee to create a new listing for the item.

I don't know how hard it would be to implement this idea into the auction software, but I imagine it's possible if handed over to a skiller programmer (the cost of doing so eventually being reimbursed through seller fees).

Overall, however, Astro Auction remains a great opportunity for space collectors and sellers...and it's a refreshing alternative to certain other auction houses where high fees and questionable goods are often the rule of the day.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-21-2009 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
While I love the free aspects of Astro Auction, as an occasional seller, I would be happy to pay a nominal fee for each new item listing...

I agree. As a seller the site is great, however..the incessant relisting of non-selling items has turned me from being a regular checker of the site to an infrequent one. I'd propose a 3-counts-and-you're-out relist, then a "rest period" for six months before relisting. You'd have to open up the seller base to compensate for the reduction in volume but it might actually result in higher sales and more visits.

mjanovec
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posted 09-21-2009 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
I'd propose a 3-counts-and-you're-out relist, then a "rest period" for six months before relisting.

That's a good option too, Paul. The only problem with that option is that Kim (or someone) would have to manually follow who is sticking to the rule and who isn't...since it would be relatively simple to list an item again with a slightly different title, scan, or item description to try fooling the software or the auction webmaster. Whereas, if the suggestion I made could be implemented within the software itself, it would all be automatic. Every fourth re-listing would require you to either lower the asking price by 10% or pay the "new listing fee" again. (And you couldn't get around the rule by making a new listing that is slightly different, because you'd still have to pay the fee for the new listing.) That would ultimately discourage endless re-listing, while giving sellers the time and opportunity to connect with a buyer (even if it takes more than a few rounds to do so).

spaced out
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posted 09-21-2009 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a seller based outside the USA I would say the main advantage of Astro-Auction for me is that my listings reach all the potential buyers browsing the site.

On eBay even if I list on eBay.com, mark my items as deliverable worldwide and have postage fees that are often cheaper than US sellers charge my items still don't get seen by the vast majority of eBay users - because the default search settings on eBay.com are to show only items located in the US.

On Astro-Auction I'm on an equal footing with everyone else.

Spacefest
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posted 09-21-2009 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the suggestions. Randy really does the bulk of the auction duties and all the programming. He's out today, but I'll have him look at the suggestions. The auction is seven years old, and he's already done most of the programming.

There IS an accounting module, but we've never used it.

Kim

Randy@astro
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From: Tucson, AZ USA
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posted 09-22-2009 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy@astro   Click Here to Email Randy@astro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wings4Flight:
I love that Astro-Auction is free but am disappointed that the number of sellers is limited.
The number of active sellers is limited, but please don't let that stop you from applying to sell on Astro-Auction.

Without a doubt, being a known Novaspace customer in good standing has a very positive influence on acceptance of your application. We have approved sellers with only a few items to sell. We usually request sample pictures of some of the items you wish to sell before approving a request.

If your not a known Novaspace customer, we sometimes require additional verification of the physical address and phone number of applicants.

We'll take a look at some of your re-listing suggestions. We frequently review whether to keep the site free for buyers and sellers.

Anywhere from 1000 to 3000 items close each month. I wouldn't be able to manually monitor the number of times items are relisted without significantly increasing the amount of time I spend with Astro-Auction -- I averaged less than 2 hours a week as Astro-Auction admin so far this year.

By the way, we do use the Accounting module. It's just that all fees are set to 0.

------------------
Randy Clamons
Systems Programmer
Astro-Auction

spaced out
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posted 09-22-2009 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any scheme specific to item relisting would be almost impossible to automate or enforce.

The best approach would be to introduce small (even 'token') listing fees, maybe as a very low percentage (with a risk of putting people off listing higher price items that might not sell) or maybe as a very small set fee (that discourages multiple re-lists of low-value items).

mjanovec
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posted 09-22-2009 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
Any scheme specific to item relisting would be almost impossible to automate or enforce.

I would think the site could easily be programmed to automate a method that discourages constant re-listings. Perhaps my scheme proposed yesterday was a bit overly complicated. An easier variation would be:

Initial listing - pay fee
Two re-listings - free

After two re-listings, the re-listing button goes away. To relist beyond that, one must pay the listing fee again to start the cycle anew.

Fees could be assessed based on the value of the starting bid, the reserve, or the instant purchase price...whichever is highest. Sample fees could be something like this:

$0.01-$10.00 item: $0.10 listing fee
$10.01-$50.00 item: $0.25 listing fee
$50.01-$100.00 item: $0.50 listing fee
$100.01-$500.00 item: $1.00 listing fee
$500.01-$2000.00 item: $2.00 listing fee
$2000.01 and greater item: $4.00 listing fee

The fees set up the incentive for sellers to start items at lower prices, which generally encourages more bidding activity (and more site activity in general).

No enforcement of this proposed scheme would be necessary, since the fee would be automatic based on the seller's asking price...and there is no way around the re-listing rule (since all new listings result in a fee).

The end result is that constant re-listings are discouraged, the content of the site is kept fresh (and easier to navigate), lower starting prices (and lower reserves) are encouraged, and the auction generates income (that pays for advertising and site maintenance).

spaced out
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posted 09-23-2009 02:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mark's proposed scheme does indeed sound like the kind of thing that would work. The fees are low enough to not put off most potential sellers but still enough to discourage bulk listing/relisting of rubbish.

The relisting rules based on the existing relist function (where you can only change certain features like the price) could also work, although perhaps one free relist would be sufficient.

I would also suggest some influence from the duration of listings. Personally I like being able to select between 7 and 13 days. It allows me to list on any day of the week but still choose to have the auction end on a Saturday or Sunday so that the largest number of people can participate at the end.

Durations of more than 13 days, however, should come with higher fees in my opinion.

Mercurypgm
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posted 09-23-2009 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercurypgm   Click Here to Email Mercurypgm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a registered seller on A-A, I would gladly list more items for sale as I have an extensive inventory but time and my health precludes me from doing more. I take my hats off to those who have the patience to scan, write descriptions, confirm sales, mail items, etc, etc. Perhaps Kim could offer a service to list items for a fee. I would gladly pay a fee to have someone else list my items for sale. Just a thought.

Spacefest
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posted 09-23-2009 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boy, I barely have the time to lis my own stuff, Richard, but perhaps some entrepreneur will pop up to do that.

I like Mark's idea, too, and Randy is doing some programming to make it work.

Chris, we try to avoid "rubbish!" and a little secret: Auction ending times don't need to be full days. The system will accept two decimal points in the field. If you can't list until later, no sweat.

Kim

liebeek
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posted 09-23-2009 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for liebeek   Click Here to Email liebeek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you are entitled to ask at least some money for giving people the opportunity to sell their items.

Sometimes I wonder, I saw a coin for instance in a lucite which was bought on eBay just a few days ago which is now on Astro-Auction. I was interested in it but then realised I already had it.

On eBay it went for a tenth of the price it is on Astro-Auction now, so you would say you deserve some money for helping the seller make some money.

Just my thoughts.
Ruud

SpaceSteve
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From: San Antonio TX, USA
Registered: Apr 2004

posted 09-23-2009 06:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceSteve   Click Here to Email SpaceSteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just had a thought...

What about, at least in the autographs area of Astro Auction, breaking it up into three categories: M-G-A Astronauts, STS Astronauts, and Russian (Vostok/Voskhod/Soyuz).

At least that way, people looking for Gemini items wouldn't have to wade through a bunch of STS items, and vice-versa.

In the case of someone like John Young, who flew in Gemini, Apollo and STS, an item would go in the category the item depicts, i.e., if it's a WSS photo, it would go in the M-G-A section. If it's a blue spacesuit photo, it would go in the STS section.

Steve

Spacefest
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posted 09-23-2009 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good thought. We already are splitting some categories up.

Kim

Randy@astro
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posted 09-23-2009 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randy@astro   Click Here to Email Randy@astro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I'm working on adding some sub-categories to the current categories. At this point, I'm only working proof-of-concept. I'm fairly well convinced my approach will work, but it's gonna be a few days before the additional sub-categories show up--maybe by the end of next week.

We're splitting Astronaut Autographs into US, Russian and Other programs. And I'm splitting up the Covers and Stamps similarly, with sub categories specifically for signed covers.

We're looking at adding nominal fees for listing, with fee amounts differing by category. That's gonna take a little time to do.

Keep the great suggestions coming. We'll do what we can.

------------------
Randy Clamons
Systems Programmer
Astro-Auction

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-24-2009 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
Any scheme specific to item relisting would be almost impossible to automate or enforce.
I doubt it. Where there's a will...

But like I said, the impact will be on the number of items listed. Currently over 2/3 of signed items and nearly 1/2 the items on the site appear to be from one seller.

All times are CT (US)

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