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What do I bid? Platform launched to automate shipping for auction houses & bidders

Platform provides real-time quotes for auctions (Photo: Jim Allen/Freightwaves)

A platform that was established four years ago to automate processes for shipping high-end items has expanded its reach into the realm of auctions.

The platform, called ARTA, on Tuesday launched “ARTA for Auctions,” which is designed to provide prospective buyers with real-time shipping quotes in a digital format. Automating the quote process will provide bidders with a clear and immediate look at the end-to-end cost of shipping, which in the world of extremely high-value items can be both expensive and complex, as well as a database of providers that can handle the specialized tasks and how they will accomplish it, ARTA said.

The typical scenario in today’s auction world is that bidders are unaware of the shipping cost until after the auction has closed and they have won the bid. It is then the buyer’s responsibility to coordinate the shipping, Fields said. To receive a shipping quote before bidding, the bidder contacts the auction house to request an estimate. The house, once it obtains the buyer’s delivery location and shipping budget, contacts various providers, a process that could take a day or longer if the item is bound for an international location, Fields said. The house reverts to the bidder with various shipping options, and then works with the bidder to confirm the details and receive the appropriate approvals.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the immediacy of information is the platform’s top selling point and the characteristic that users are most interested in, according to ARTA CEO Adam Fields.

The new technology could influence the auction process in ways that go beyond transportation, Fields said in an e-mail late on July 15. By knowing the shipping charges during the actual auction, a bidder may decide that the total cost is beyond its budget and will step away, Fields said. The auction house will also avoid the unpleasant scenario of dealing with an unhappy customer who’s been surprised by the shipping cost, and will save the internal resources that would be expended to attempt to accommodate the buyer, he said.

Faster access to relevant information may also increase interest among foreign buyers, for whom shipping costs are a more important consideration than for U.S. bidders, Fields said. Asian bidders were heavy users of the platform during its pilot program, he said.

“Knowing the total cost upfront and while the intent is high is not just a better buying experience, but also allows the buyer to make an informed bidding decision with all relevant information,” Fields said. 

(An earlier version incorrectly referred to Asian shippers.)

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.