In the span of 5 years, bidding sites have become part of our way of life. Websites such as eBay bring in millions of people each month, which allows them to buy and sell items from the ordinary to the extreme.

Even though consumer auction sites receive the most press, bidding sites for businesses are also pretty handy. They help companies move their inventories around and sell discontinued or slow-moving items–usually at better prices than they would receive from liquidators. Only a few attract millions of people, but some specialize in unique, niche audiences that help businesses reorganize their inventory quickly and easily.

Is This Site Right for Me?

A small amount of companies build their own marketplaces, but this isn’t practical for everyone. I advise you work with an existing bidding site, and there are hundreds to choose from. Mainstream websites, such as eBay and Yahoo Auctions, focus on businesses as well as consumers. Smaller websites only specialize in business-to-business transactions and have broad categories to work with. It’s not an easy choice to decide which works best for you. I suggest you register with a couple of sites at a time and feel them out. When you’re done playing around with them, keep the following in mind:

Am I Protected?
Several sites offer fraud protection with a premium membership or a built-in deductible. Some even offer an escrow service that protects both parties from fraud at both ends.

What Are the Payment Options?
A few sites work with third-party credit card processors to help users with different types of payments. Others, particularly ones specializing in B2B sales, offer financing. And, the rest use payment systems that draw money out of the buyer’s account and puts it in the seller’s account.

Are They Helpful?
The majority of bidding sites offer services to support their users in managing their listings and market their products. Some even provide custom management tools and technical support.

Do They Have High Standards?
Most bidding sites let the users rate each other, and the people who receive too many complaints can be banned from the marketplace. Make sure the bidding site you work with has a strict conflict resolution policy for its members.

How Much Should I Pay?
A couple of sites, such as Yahoo Auctions, allow you to list your auctions for free. There you have the ability to advertise your listing, activate a merchant account, or take advantage of other related services. The majority of bidding sites, however, will include a fee for each listing. They usually fit into two different categories:
Insertion Fees
This is a flat fee that's based upon the listing price. It can range from a couple of pennies to well over $100 or more for homes, boats, and other high-priced items.
Final Value Fees
This fee is based on a percentage of the final closing price. It usually ranges from 1% to 5%, but in rare cases, the fee can be higher.
Get Going
After you're used to selling online, you should work with a couple of your favorite bidding sites. Most will ask you to verify your identity by credit card number, even if you don't buy anything at all. And, you will have to accept their terms of service. Remember, a few B2B bidding sites are open only to approved, qualified sellers. Many of them will get a hold of you directly, run a credit check, or look into your background information before approving your membership.