A Complete Guide to Procurement Auctions by Simfoni’s Procurement Professionals

Table of Contents

Introduction to Auctions

Procurement auctions are a type of auction in which buyers compete with each other to purchase goods or services from a seller. In a procurement auction, the buyer who submits the highest bid within a specified time period typically wins the auction and is awarded the contract for the goods or services being offered. Procurement auctions are often used in government procurement, but can also be used in private sector procurement for goods and services such as raw materials, equipment, and professional services. The goal of procurement auctions is to ensure that the buyer obtains the best value for their money while also providing a fair and transparent process for all bidders.

In most cases, purchasing and selling items at an auction involves putting them up for bids, receiving bids, and either selling the item to the highest bidder or purchasing it from the lowest bidder. Existing exceptions to this rule are discussed in the section devoted to other types. Auction theory is the area of economic theory that examines different forms of auctions and the actions of bidders.

The open ascending price auction, utilized throughout history, is the most popular type of auction.

  • Players compete openly for the highest bid, with each consecutive offer being more than the one before.
  • The auctioneer may announce prices and make bids orally or online.

A variety of trading scenarios employ auctions. These situations include used vehicles, real estate, online advertising, vacation packages, rare collectables, pricey wines, paintings, antiques, rare collectables, commodities, etc.

What Is a Procurement Auction?

A procurement auction is a method of entering a competitive market to purchase products or services. When several sellers compete with one another to obtain the business of one buyer, the process is known as a procurement auction or reverse auction.

Suppliers must typically pre-qualify to participate in a procurement auction. Prequalification entails:

  • Fulfilling all requirements for obligatory supply
  • Accepting the terms and conditions of the auction and the contract, as well as the scope and requirements
  • This indicates that the vendors compete primarily on price during the auction.

Suppliers may compete in an auction based on factors other than price, but this is uncommon. Complicated procurement auctions could require the in-the-moment evaluation of several price, non-price, and related factors.

When To Use Procurement Auctions

When to employ a procurement auction is open to interpretation. Similar to conventional tenders, a competitive market where suppliers compete to deliver the goods or services is necessary for a successful event.

When to Employ A Procurement Auctions

When Choosing To Employ A Procurement Auction As The Market Strategy, Consideration Must Be Given To:

The requirement for the commodity or service, the procurement’s risk and complexity, and a market study and review (the same way as determining the market approach for any procurement)

Using A Procurement Auction May Result From One Or More Of The Following Traits:

  • The needs for the goods or services can be clearly defined and standardized, readily available commercially available products (commodities), or pricing may be the main or only factor in competition.
  • There is a competitive market, sufficient providers can give the needed good or service and are willing to participate, and there is a chance to save money.
  • For purchases in the Leveraged and Transactional complexity quadrants, procurement auctions typically provide more advantages with fewer risks; nevertheless, you should always weigh the pros and cons of employing a procurement auction case by case.

Is A Procurement Auction A Better Way To Purchase Goods?

A reverse auction is another name for a procurement auction. In contrast to a typical auction, the sellers vie for a company’s business. The prices being offered typically decrease as a result of the procurement auction.

The actions in a procurement auction will focus on identifying new suppliers and ensuring that any current suppliers can provide competitive rates and improved conditions. The following activities take place during the procurement auction, which is typically conducted online:

  • A market maker, which is typically a website that specializes in this kind of job, is hired by a buyer. Some businesses, including Mars, have their websites. Some market maker websites focus on government contracts, while others hire independent contractors.
  • An RFP (Request for Proposal) is posted on the reverse auction website for a collection of goods or services. The RFP has a specified duration.
  • Visitors to the site can submit estimates for supplying these goods or services.
  • Due to the short time frame and active bidding, prices fall quickly.
  • The customer subsequently gives the preferred bidder the supplier contract.
  • They should consider the entire bundle of terms, quality, and prices rather than just the lowest price.


This method of bidding indeed has some drawbacks:

  • Low bids may result in a loss of quality.
  • Naturally, suppliers will want to submit low bids, which may result in them just submitting bids for a portion of their product line.
  • Some vendors with cheaper costs and more favourable terms might need to know about the procurement auction.
  • Some vendors are tempted to circumvent the auction guidelines.
  • The expense of switching from current providers must also be taken into consideration.

Benefits of Procurement Auctions

There are some benefits to offset this:

  • Suppliers are encouraged to submit low bids and offer enticing terms to obtain the contract.
  • They are regarded as an equitable method of distributing contracts from both the government and influential monopolistic firms.
  • It is a simple and inexpensive also way to find new vendors.
  • The price of negotiating is virtually nil.


What Is an eAuction?

In business-to-business contexts, an eAuction is a transaction between sellers (the auctioneers) and bids (suppliers) in an online marketplace.

  • It enables suppliers to compete online for contracts based on public specifications and can take place between businesses, consumers, or consumers and businesses.
  • Due to the competitive atmosphere, products and services are provided at their present market worth.

By 2027, the market for online auctions is expected to increase by $2.5 billion with a CAGR of 11.35%, according to a Technavio analysis.

Overview Of eAuctions

The majority of people are aware of forward auctions. We are familiar with them from sites like eBay and auction houses where several bidders compete by bidding progressively greater prices for a given good or service.

Reverse auctions, however, are the most popular kind of online auctions. In a reverse auction, the roles of the buyer and seller are reversed, and numerous vendors compete for the customer’s business by gradually lowering the price of their good or service.

Two categories of e-auctions exist:

  • Reverse auctions
  • Forward auction

Forward Auction

The opposite of a reverse auction is a forward auction. In a forward auction, the seller starts the bidding and the bidders raise the price. When there are several vendors on the market and pricing is the most important criterion, reverse auctions might make a lot of sense.

Reverse Auction

In a reverse auction, sellers place bids for the prices that they are willing to accept for their products and services. It differs from a traditional auction in which a seller places an item up for bid and potential purchasers submit bids up until the auction’s conclusion, when the item is awarded to the highest bidder.

Double Auction

Several vendors and buyers participate in a double auction to buy and sell goods. [Prospective buyers and sellers present the market institution with their bids and ask prices, and the market institution then selects a price p that clears the market: all sellers who had asked for less than p sell, and all purchasers who had bid more than p purchase at this price p. Also included are buyers and sellers that offer or demand precisely p. The stock exchange is a typical instance of a double auction.

  • Double auctions are similar to Walrasian auctions and have been used as a technique to research how prices are determined in regular markets in addition to their direct interest.
  • In a barter trade, a double auction is also feasible without any cash exchange.
  • A barter double auction is a non-monetary auction in which each participant has a demand and an offer made up of various traits.
  • Euclidean distance is employed in the mathematical modelling of satisfaction level, where the offer and demand are regarded as vectors.

eAuction Types

Classic Reverse Auction

Many sellers engage in competition for the buyer’s business. The buyer can view all the bids and select the one they want—most often used for procurement.

English Auction

At English auctions, bids are announced by the auctioneer or the participants, and the winning bid is paid in exchange for the item. The most popular and essential eAuction formats are simple to use, intuitive, and can lower transaction costs.

Dutch Auction

Dutch auctions commence at a high price and gradually reduce until a bidder accepts them. They help make quick selections because the highest bidder wins the auction.

Japanese Auction

In this case, the buyer specifies a high price that decreases by certain sums at predetermined times, such as £500 every two hours. The transaction moves forward if a supplier agrees to offer the goods and services at that price.

Steps Involved In A B2B eAuction

  • Calls for Proposals
  • Develop, test, release, receive, and grade responses to proposal requests (RFPs).
  • Choose the “Lot Strategy”

The item(s) that invite suppliers to bid, i.e., the goods or services sold, is a lot. So, the seller’s strategic mix of various things to boost competition and the chance to lower costs is known as a lot strategy.

Participation Training

Suppliers can get an overview of the auction tool, answer any questions, and run a practice auction during the pre-auction training session.

Execute & Keep an Eye othe eAuction

It is crucial to guarantee that the bidding process is efficient. If problems arise, a buyer or corporate representative should be prepared to step in and solve them.

Assessment Of Bids

The sourcing team and user departments do post-auction analysis based on predetermined criteria.

eAuctions Between Consumers

The C2C market has grown as more businesses enter the sector to support C2C transactions. Popular among vendors seeking to increase their sales potential by reaching clients they might not have otherwise. Online marketplaces that provide free or inexpensive classified ads, auctions, forums, and personal pages for budding entrepreneurs include Etsy, eBay, and Craigslist.

  • The margins are also kept higher for sellers and smaller for buyers because there aren’t many expenditures.
  • There is also the undeniable convenience of listing things online and waiting for customers to find them instead of trying to sell them in an actual store.
  • Like sellers, purchasers merely need to look through listings for the goods they need.

eAuctions' Advantages For Buyers

With the suppliers competing head-to-head to determine who can offer the lowest pricing, an e-auction gives procurement experts competitive prices for their products. Since each supplier cannot submit a complete proposal, it also speeds up the procurement process and saves Time.

cost reduction

Cost savings are directly correlated with time savings. According to Sanmarket, businesses that used eAuction technologies in the final quarter of 2022 saved an average of 6.88% across all categories.

More Effective

It is optional to read through and assess each supplier’s complete proposal.


The fact that bids are public reveals the actual market worth of the items and what rival companies are ready to pay for the same supplies.

Use of More Suppliers

Internet auctions give buyers access to a local, national, or international pool of possible sellers. Using local suppliers helps lessen the impact of supply chain issues.

Standardization Of Process

Having standardized techniques for acquiring materials benefits buyers and promotes more stable spending cycles.

Advantages Of eAuctions For Vendors

E-auctions are accessible, enabling suppliers to compete in new industries and smaller enterprises to compete. While most customers will want to acquire their “non-core” products from their existing supplier, a winning bid can result in more business.

New Market Access

Vendors can use online auctions to reach customers they might not have been able to with conventional auctions.

Equal Opportunity

Smaller buyers can get a competitive edge by working with suppliers they might have yet to be able to do business with.


All purchasers are notified and given the same chances to bid on things to meet legal standards for impartiality and fairness.

Problems Often Seen In Manual Supplier Auctions


When conducting a manual auction, organizing materials, setting up an auction location, and disrupting a team’s productivity all take a lot of time and effort.

For buyers who may have to travel to a supplier to place a bid on their goods, it might be time-consuming. By moving the auction to an online platform, vendors can sell their products with less human labour, and buyers can analyze potential purchases more easily.

Restricted Participation

Due to the Time and expense associated with the bidding process, supplier auctions will only receive a limited amount of bids. As there is less competition due to low participation, overall bids will often be lower since buyers will adjust their bids to account for their expenses.

Smaller businesses that might not otherwise also compete with their larger counterparts will be able to participate in eAuctions since they reach a larger audience and attract a broader spectrum of participants.

Transparency Issues

Although making an effort to create an equal playing field for all participants, manual auctions need to do a better job of achieving transparency.

There are numerous opportunities to give specific bidders insider information or set up unfair bidding circumstances. In contrast, the internet platform used by eAuctions makes all communications transparent and accessible to all participants.

Cost Increases

Manual auctions will result in an overall cost rise. Companies must account for the personnel, administration, and preparation expenses that will reduce the revenues from a manual auction.

Some companies may hire an outside auction house to manage their auctions. This has a cost, though, as a sizable portion of the revenue may be used to pay for the services of the auction firm.

eAuctions' Best Practices

Be precise and direct with your demands. This increases your chances of receiving high-quality pitches and reduces wasted Time reading pointless proposals.

Do your research beforehand. Before beginning the online auction process, request information from potential providers. Be open to working with new suppliers because they may have ideas your company has yet to consider.

Take action and complete eAuctions as soon as possible. To avoid having to restart the auction process due to the terms of the eAuction being rescinded, please immediately award contracts.

What Does A Procurement Reverse Auction Entail?

The most common eAuction type is reverse auctions. The conventional roles of buyer and seller are reversed in a reverse auction. Instead of customers gradually increasing their offers for a good or service, sellers gradually reduce their prices until a bid is accepted.

For instance, your business might be searching for a provider to construct a new parking garage. Several pre-qualified construction firms are asked to participate in an online reverse auction at a specific time and day. The first bid is launched after everyone is connected to the internet via an e-sourcing platform. There are several rules, but in this case, each bid must be submitted within two minutes of the one before it.

Finally, no further offers are submitted, and the purchasing group accepts the final offer.

Prequalification Of Suppliers

To ensure that every participant complies fully with regulatory regulations and meets all RFP requirements, prequalification must be done before the eAuction. Prequalification is crucial to ensure that other variables, such as risk, sustainability, service levels, innovation, social procurement, and others, are considered because eAuctions primarily focus on cost.

Prequalification can be the most time-consuming step in the eAuction process if done manually. Nevertheless, several software companies are now developing ways to automate this step.

Reverse Auctions In Procurement: Pros And Cons

Reverse auction advantages include:

  • A formal, systematic procedure
  • Purchasing effectiveness
  • Eliminating one-on-one conversations will save Time.
  • Process openness allows vendors to view one another’s offers
  • Substantial price cuts brought on by supplier rivalry.

Reverse auctions can reduce costs and increase efficiency, but they can have the following drawbacks:

  • An over-focus on pricing at the expense of other factors. Every procurement specialist knows that the best value sometimes comes at a lower price.
  • Reverse auctions are fantastic for transparency, but the buying group must follow regulations and ethical standards. For instance, to maintain fairness, if any information is given to one bidder, it must also be given to the other bidders.

Types Of eAuctions

List auctions, CherryLot auctions, Cherry Picking auctions, Dutch auctions, and Japanese auctions are only a few of the several eAuction variants with various procedures and regulations. It pays to start and stick with a straightforward reverse auction if you’re new to electronic auctions.

Recognizing Reverse Auctions

The buyer posts a request for a necessary commodity or service in a reverse auction. The winning bidder is willing to accept the lowest price after the sellers bid on how much they will be paid for the good or service.

With the development of internet-based online auction technologies, which made it possible for many vendors to communicate with a buyer in real Time, reverse auctions became increasingly common. Massive enterprises and governmental organizations use reverse auctions as a competitive method of procuring raw materials, supplies, and services, also as accounting and customer service.

Reverse Auction Example

The bidding process for government contracts exemplifies reverse auctions. In this kind of auction, the bidders—approved contractors—propose a pricing structure to complete the project after the government specifies the project’s needs.

For also instance, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) posts a message asking for potential vendors when it needs a particular product or service, such, say, 50 fighter jets. The DoD describes its requirements and deadlines in this mail, inviting potential contractors to submit pricing offers within a specified window of Time. The party is usually ready to perform the required task for fewer wins.

Companies and governments can use reverse auctions to encourage competition and lower the cost of an item or service they require.

Reverse Auction Cautions

It is crucial to remember also that not all goods or services lend themselves to reverse auctions. Reverse auctions may not be the best option for certain products and services that only a few suppliers can offer. To maintain the integrity of a competitive process, a reverse auction only functions when numerous vendors offer comparable goods and services.

Moreover, sellers tend to prioritize their lowest offers while paying less attention to the calibre of their offerings. When a buyer experiences the poor quality of the lowest-priced set of products or services acquired through a reverse auction, the saying “cheap for a cause” may be applicable.

Lastly, a buyer must explicitly outline the requirements to the bidders. If this isn’t done, the buyer can end up with a winning bid that doesn’t have all the desired qualities.

Running A Reverse Auction

Procurement professionals use reverse auctions for the correct categories at the right Time. Choosing which categories to use when is a combination of art and science, but there are a few rules that should guide your choices.

Reverse auctions should not be conducted when vendors’ offerings are highly distinct. For instance, a Ferrari might wind up competing against a Prius in a reverse auction for something as general as vehicles. Although they also belong to the same category and are both great automobiles, they are two entirely different things. When a clearly defined specification exists in more commoditized product and service categories, reverse auctions work best.

  • Reverse auctions should be used cautiously when aiming for value rather than just price.
  • Reverse auctions are viable for a value-based sourcing strategy, but you must exercise extra caution.
  • The procedures before the sale and the sort of auction itself must be thoroughly thought out.
  • Avoid using reverse auctions to ambush critical suppliers.
  • Reverse auctions with long-standing incumbent sellers are entirely acceptable, but you should make an effort to interact with them before merely inviting them to join.

You must take several procedures to set up and carry out a reverse auction once you’ve decided to do so.

Qualifying And The Opening Offer

After you have a list of approved sellers, you can set up your reverse auction. The first step is choosing the type of reverse auction you wish to hold. There are many different styles. Although some service providers offer a wide range of switches and toggles that let a bidder adjust each reverse auction component, we firmly advise that you follow the set guidelines of the auction type you are using. This is why.

Suppose you invited a few vendors to compete for your business, but you employed a ball game instead of a reverse auction. The vendors would know precisely how to respond if you informed them that the contract would go to the business that made the freest throws and goals or had the lowest score on a golf course, among other statistics. The selections encompass a variety of activities, but each sport’s regulations are well-known and well-documented. But, if you’re adjusting too many toggles for the games, you can get something the players are much less accustomed to.

Generally, it would help if you chose an auction style and set up the following (where necessary):

Start Date:

The date and Time the auction officially starts.

End Time:

The Time and date on which the auction concludes and at which the overtime rules take effect.

Maximum Bid:

This is the highest bid you will accept and serves as the “ceiling” for all other bids. You should be able to configure this if you want because you ought to have received initial bids. It usually doesn’t matter if you don’t establish it because bidders will naturally move towards and below your opening offers.

The Minimum Bid Reduction:

They are required for a bid to be considered acceptable. Because you want to avoid, for instance, vendors dropping their pricing by $1 per bid when the bid amount is in the thousands or millions, this should always be set.

Overtime Guidelines (If Any):

Depending on the type of auction, there will be differences in the specifications of Overtime (including whether there is any Overtime at all!). For Open Auctions, for instance, a typical Overtime practice is to specify the amount of Time that must pass without any bids for the auction to end (we refer to this parameter as “Quiet Time”). For the auction to end, both (a) the End Time must have passed and (b) more than the specified Quiet Time must have passed since the last bid.

After configuring your auction, you can invite the merchants. Generally speaking, let them know in advance. We advise giving yourself a week to pass between the invitation and the reverse auction.

Five Stages Of The Reverse Auction Process

Reverse auction software that is user-friendly and that you feel comfortable utilizing is essential. If you and your suppliers are unfamiliar with it, do a reverse auction first to observe how the process actually functions.

A reverse auction’s first five steps are as follows:

Investigate The Market

Before you make any expectations, you should be well-informed about the market.

Be Specific With Your Demands

If you need clarification, developing strong relationships with suppliers is possible.

Set Up Supplier Expectations Similarly

Please ensure they know the guidelines and dos and don’ts of the auction. Ensure everyone is on the same page before you begin since nobody likes surprises.

Never Forego An Auction

There may be a source you are very familiar with, but that doesn’t imply there isn’t a superior supply for your requirements.

Highlight The Advantages Of A Reverse Auction

Reverse auctions give suppliers a chance to assess the state of the market.

Reverse Auction Procedure

You can start working on the reverse auction procedure after everyone agrees. The following actions are:

  • Where Necessary, Conduct A Pre-Bidding: An image of computer keyboard arrows was used for an article on the reverse auction process.
  • Look Over Every Detail Of The Planning Involved.
  • To Be Certain That There Is No Misunderstanding: Specify the terms of the auction, including extensions, reductions, etc. You often suggest an extension, but the decision is solely yours.
  • Have A Phone Hotline Open During The Auction In Case Anyone Has Any Questions.
  • Select Your Selections For Awards: Remember that, unless required by an auction rule, the lowest bidder need not receive the prize. The most excellent option may sometimes be the one with the lowest price.
  • As Appropriate, Incorporate Award Optimisation.

How Should A Reverse Auction Be Done?

The steps for conducting the reverse auction are as follows:

  • The spending category is identified to ensure the bid is suitable enough for the reverse auction.
  • Making sure there are at least two vendors. Because there are multiple sellers in a reverse auction, the price is high.
  • They ensure that the participants have managerial or entrepreneurial experience.
  • You are selecting the ideal reverse bidding software.
  • Clear, outlining all the requirements.
  • We are bringing sellers on board.
  • She was putting on a fake auction.
  • They are making sure that buyers are given some time.
  • The live auction’s administration.
  • I thank everyone that took part (suppliers).

Reverse Auction Advantages

The advantages of the reverse auction are as follows:


Because this kind of auction is so speedy, both the buyer and the seller can save a tonne of Time on market research.

No Waste

The customer can readily express all of his requirements, resulting in little to no wastage of Time or other resources.

Easy Comparison

Simple comparisons allow the buyer to choose the best from all available goods and services.

Best Price

The purchaser can acquire the goods and services at the most affordable costs.

Disadvantages of Reverse Auctions

  • There are better methods than a reverse auction for many goods and services.
  • Due to excessive competition, one cannot verify the integrity of the reverse auction process because it requires several sellers.
  • The buyer could dive low and pick the least ethical action to get the lowest bid.
  • The customer can be more interested in purchasing goods and services at the lowest price available and purchasing either something of acceptable quality or something that lacks some elements that would meet his minimum requirements and expectations.

Learn more about- eProcurement


Reverse bidding is another name for a reverse auction. This one is driven by price, approach strategy, and product and service information like other auction types. There are four varieties of reverse auctions: Japanese, Dutch, Open, and Ranked.

The most excellent thing about reverse auctions is that they move quickly, don’t waste Time, are simple to compare, and provide the best prices. Many suppliers must always conduct a reverse auction. The providers constantly try to outbid the competition in this auction by submitting bids for the goods and services being auctioned at the lowest price.

Reverse bidding only functions in a single-buyer configuration. Reverse bidding’s primary goal is to outbid rivals and get the auctioned goods and services at the lowest price feasible. Unfortunately, the players employ aggressive techniques and fall short of ensuring superior quality goods and services due to the emphasis on obtaining goods and services at the lowest possible rates.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

For your help, we have created a list of answers to assist you more. 

When a buyer quotes their stakes, and multiple vendors quote their bids to offer their services or goods to the buyer, this is known as a reverse auction, a market mechanism used in purchases and sales. In a reverse auction, the sellers place successively lower bids, and the contract is frequently awarded to the lowest bidder. Government or public service contracts are frequently awarded using a reverse auction to determine the price of commodities in the sizable market.

The first stage in executing a reverse auction process is to publish a proposal or request a quotation to inform purchasers of the parameters required. Second, the sellers express their desire to participate in the auction per the buyer’s requirements, and they are shortlisted. Next, the buyer decides the auction’s terms. Conduct the live auction, then present the prize to the highest bidder.

Potential vendors can compete online in real-time using a technique called an “eAuction,” sometimes known as an electronic reverse auction. It also provides prices for the items and services being auctioned off.

A buyer asks for an essential good or service in a reverse auction. The winner is the seller who accepts the lowest offer after sellers place bids for the price they are willing to pay for the goods and services.

In a reverse auction, a buyer posts a request for a particular good or service, encouraging companies to bid against one another for the amount they are ready to pay to deliver the requested good or service by the deadline. The contract ultimately goes to the seller, ready to take the smallest sum.

By increasing competition and avoiding having to bargain personally with several suppliers, reverse auctions assist purchasers in reducing buying costs.

When there are lots of vendors in the market and pricing is an important consideration, reverse auctions typically work best.

The opposite of a reverse auction is a forward auction. In a forward auction, the seller starts the bidding, and the bidders raise the price.

Reverse auctions are a competitive acquisition mechanism big businesses and the government use to get commodities and raw resources. Also, it can be used for customer service and accounting tasks.

To ensure the integrity also of the competitive process, a reverse auction is only appropriate if numerous sellers provide the same products and services. Also, there should be a tendency to prioritize sellers’ lowest offers and less attention paid to the quality of the products or services.