Thursday, November 13, 2014

QuiBids Expanding Into Women's Fashion?

As penny auctions fall out of favor, more or less, with consumers (yes, the industry is not even close to its peak in 2010-2011 where a new site opened up every day in all kinds of niches, without regard to potential profitability), QuiBids is one of the oldest and most trusted sites still standing and going strong. However, it knows that it isn't going to see an expanding industry anytime soon, so it makes sense that QuiBids is trying to diversify. And it is doing it well.

Recently, QuiBids started featuring more items in women's fashion world. This is significant for a few reasons -

  • Women's fashion items have a very high margin. This means the mark-up for Buy Now is significant. On an average, therefore, it is easier for QuiBids to break even and make a profit off these items. I can guarantee their profit margins on this category are significantly higher than say electronics. 
  • QuiBids seems to be forming strategic partnerships. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are actually getting paid for the publicity or able to get really nice deals on the items themselves. Mind you, these aren't world renowned fashion brands but the ones I'd classify more as "upcoming". The exposure these brands get from tens of thousands of QuiBids shoppers is significant - they don't (yet) have much clout. 
  • For the future, the fashion industry seems like a nice category to expand business in. It attracts a different set of users, who might be obsessed with a deal (if you don't believe me, check out a sample sale event in New York and you'll know what I am talking about!) in the fashion industry. They could then become regulars. 

QuiBids is slowly moving away from the traditional penny auction model and towards more lucrative eCommerce type business. Time will tell how they succeed. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why is QuiBids Showing Competitor Advertisements?

Why is QuiBids advertising competitors? It's a weird business decision really. That too, using the plain old Google Adsense program, so the site has absolutely no control over what advertising is being shown. This means, if someone is searching for penny auctions in their Google history, they might be shown an advertisement of QuiBids itself. Or worse, a competitor.

As a general rule, if you're not an information-only website (e.g. this blog), it's a bad idea to have Google Adsense ads on the website. It's worse if you're in the e-commerce space, since you're most likely to see competitor ads on the site. When I tried it out, for instance, here's an ad that I saw on the QuiBids page:

The site being advertised is, which is an e-commerce site (not a penny auction). However, Google is well known to track clicks and shows relevant advertising. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that other people might actually be seeing competitor advertising on this space. It's even harder to understand when you consider the fact that this is a prime advertising location, above the fold.

Here are some competitors using Google Adsense text ads (and possibly the banner ads too):

Normally, if companies want to advertise on their homepage and every other page, they might like to use a non-competing advertiser, instead going through marketplaces like BuySellAds which give more freedom in choosing what advertisement will be shown. Going with Google Adsense is a bit naive, in my opinion, because it opens up the possibility to show ads for direct competition.

It might also mean that QuiBids is not doing as well as we think, and needs the extra revenue, even if it means a direct reduction in its overall sales and customer retention (as some customers would go off to competing websites). Otherwise, it might be that QuiBids gets so much traffic, that it feels like this would add a significant source of revenue for the website.

What are your theories for this behavior? 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vidfall Review: A New Penny Auction Like Group Buy Site

This Vidfall review with explore all the features of a new penny auction-like website, which allows you to buy discounted gift cards and other discounted products, but crucially, without paying for bids. It's a new site that I find very promising in this space. More technically, Vidfall is a "Group Buy" website which isn't a traditional penny auction, but the basic idea is similar - you get products at a discount, and the discount is applied through the efforts of the group but there is only one winner. However, Vidfall is far less riskier, since you don't pay for the bids. Let me explain how the process works.

How Vidfall Works

  • The price starts at the market rate, so $10 for a $10 Amazon gift card. 
  • 'Bids' are video ads watched. Each video advertisement that you watch on the website, you get one 'bid' which is then automatically placed on the auction. Each 'bid' reduces the price by $0.01. So after you watch the video ad, the price of the above Amazon gift card would be $9.99. 
  • There could obviously be multiple 'bidders' on the auction. Lets say there are 10 people, all watching ads and reducing the price. This means, on an average, the price of the gift card is dropping by $0.10 each duration of an ad. 
  • Anyone can jump in at any time and just buy the deal. Lets say people collectively watched 100 ads, so the price dropped by 100X$0.01 = $1. This means the $10 Amazon gift card is now selling at $9. Someone thinks this is a good deal and buys it. That person gets the $10 Amazon gift card for $9, and rest of the bidders get nothing (just like in penny auctions). 
  • Each auction, just like in penny auctions, has one winner. However, unlike penny auctions, all the other auction participants only pay with their time rather than money. The losers in the auction don't really lose money at all. 'Bidding', therefore, is completely free. Instead of paying with your money, you pay with your time/attention by watching advertisements. 
If you want a more visual explanation for this, check out the official Vidfall video to learn more. Also, if you want to keep up with the latest news from the site, check out their official blog.

How Vidfall Makes Money

I always like to discuss how the site makes money, because if the business model isn't sustainable, it might very well close down, especially in this space (although in this case, people won't lose money if they shut down, just lost time and lot so frustration).

The way Vidfall makes money is very simple - through selling video ads on its website. Right now, it needs to get at least $0.01/ad from advertisers, which is a little high in my opinion. They'll need to make something a little more sustainable. However, that being said, also remember that gift cards almost always sell at a discount to their market value, so they have some leeway there.

However, I also believe that if Vidfall can gain more customers, it can find other ways to monetize the site for itself. Besides, right now, Vidfall seems to be a funded startup, so they shouldn't be thinking about their bottom lines at such an early stage. The bottom line is, if the model turns out unsustainable and the site closes down, you won't lose any money.

More About the Company Vidfall

Vidfall is very different from many other penny auction sites, in that it is being run more as a tech startup than a get-rich-quick scheme. This means there's a lot more room for organic growth and exploring new business models and ideas.

Vidfall is being funded by Wasabi Ventures, which means they should be able to spend money and expand their business without thinking about profits from day one. The site is started by Joel Robinson, who is one of the 'Entrepreneurs in Residence' at Wasabi Ventures.

Vidfall just completed their alpha testing in May 2014 and the results seemed very promising. They also won $30,000 in a startup competition recently, which should give them money to expand their user base. They were also on the top spot on Reddit's r/startups for March. All this is a very promising start for a young company and hopefully they can keep the momentum going (I've seen too many promising ideas in this space that have now gone into the history books, but I think Vidfall might just pull it off if it can make its long-term business sustainable).

My Experience

I tried Vidfall, and won a $5 Starbucks gift card for $2.54. Not too shabby I would say.

Right now, there seems to be low competition, so it's possible to get some nice deals, especially on gift cards. The site is very new, so don't expect a lot of variety of products, but my guess is, this will change soon in the future. There's no downside to it, really, so you should definitely give Vidfall a try

Monday, September 23, 2013

Beezid Back to School Offer: Promo Code Expires October 1

Beezid has a new promotion that is going to expire soon though - on October 1st at 12am. Beezid occasionally has these promotions that are great for you because you can end up saving more money and lowering your effective cost per bid. This gives you more ammunition to bid on a penny auction site and you can afford to spend more bids to come out ahead in the game. Anyway, here's the promotion straight from Beezid:

Get An Extra 250% In Bonus Bids With Purchases of $70 Or More. Promo Code: B2SBIDS

Do you bid on Beezid? Please take the poll to the right hand side of the page and tell us where all you bid and on which penny auctions you're active. Or just drop a comment.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why so Many 'Free to Bid' Auctions at QuiBids?

You may have noticed the 'Free to Bid' auctions at QuiBids. Those are about 40% of the live auctions at this moment and show no sign of abating! Look at the number of bids just the three auctions above together have gotten so far: 3,478, 1,922 and 958 and of course, still counting.

The rules are simple: You got 10 free bids to use during a gameplay. Depending on the auction, you'll win some multiplier. For instance, you might win 100 free bids, which is not atypical. Remember, these are free bids, which means you don't lose anything bidding on these auctions, and one lucky winner takes it all home.

So why is QuiBids doing this? What's in it for them? It's simple - if you read the fine print,
"To be eligible, you must be a QuiBids user, and have purchased a bid pack."
This means, these gameplay auctions help hook the bidders on to the other QuiBids auctions where they directly make money. If you don't know the basic QuiBids strategies, for example, then you might end up losing money on bids which means QuiBids ends up making good money on them.

These are fun and you should definitely give these gameplay auctions a try. However, don't be a sucker and know the whole game before getting on with it. Read the ENTIRE QuiBids strategy guide before you get started.

Of course, like any other site, QuiBids wants the site to be sticky with the users, i.e., they should return and then return again to the site to bid and buy. That's how they make a profit. QuiBids has been incredibly good not only with attracting new bidders but also with keeping existing bidders loyal to the brand. The gameplay auctions only add to their 'stickiness factor' and make you want to visit them even more and buy from them.

What do you think of these gameplay auctions at QuiBids?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beezid Coupon Codes

Here are some Beezid Coupon Codes.

Beezid is one of the few surviving penny auctions that has been around for a while now. It is known for creating buzz with advertising and is one of the few penny auctions that takes its marketing beyond the traditional circles to the mainstream audience. I remember watching a Beezid commercial during the University of Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game this weekend. Owing to this, Beezid coupon codes are pretty common and change regularly.

If you are looking to win on penny auctions like Beezid, check out my Penny Auction Strategy Guide. My general QuiBids Strategy works for Beezid too, with some modifications. 

Working Beezid Coupon Codes:
1. GET25BIDS. This coupon will give you 25 free bids when you purchase a standard bid pack. This helps you get more bids and decrease your average cost per bid.
2. B2SBIDS to get an extra 250% in Bonus Bids with purchases of $70 or more

Know of any more Beezid coupon codes? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

How to Get Your QuiBids Account Banned

Hopefully you're not looking to get your QuiBids account banned, but you might invariably do so. There are plenty of things that are against the QuiBids Terms and Conditions that can potentially get you banned. Here's a short list.

  • Collude with others: If QuiBids finds out that you're colluding in any form with another bidder, you can be banned. 
  • Use a third party bidding software: Auto-bidding bots are prohibited. If QuiBids finds out you're using these, you might get banned from the site. This is understandable as it can provide you with an unfair edge over the other bidders. 
  • Use a third party bid-tracking software: I don't think there is a clear definition of 'bid tracking software' but I assume this is similar to the one above. 
  • Create multiple accounts: You are not allowed to create multiple accounts. If you're caught doing this, prepare yourself for a ban from QuiBids. 
  • Be a family member of a QuiBids employee: Well, nothing much to do here, except family members of the employees are strictly forbidden from bidding. 
For a full copy, read the QuiBids Terms and Conditions.
Am I missing anything? 

New QuiBids Coupon Code for 5 Free Bids

Use the code SIZZLE to get 5 free QuiBids bids. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

List of Surviving Penny Auctions

The Penny Auction industry is on the decline - there is no question about that. Here's a Google Trends report for search volume of the phrase "Penny Auction:

 The volume peaked in 2011 and never really came back. That was the time where every Tom, Dick and Harry thought starting a new penny auction site was the way to riches. However, like any business, this is hard work and you cannot slap together a site with a pre-canned script and expect to make money. A number of scams and popular sites closing down didn't help either. It was probably a fatigue, but the industry never saw it's previous highs.

The one good thing with the drop in popularity of Penny Auctions is that now you there is less competition with other bidders and indeed you can end up winning some cool items. I remember times when popular items like iPads would go on for more than 24 hours, which is insane. That madness has reduced and therefore dedicated bidders can now hope to win some good items using Penny Auction Strategies.

Anyway, here are the list of surviving penny auction sites that have been around for a while now and saw the downturn in the industry but are still in business and have no intention of closing down. They are doing something right, obviously.

#1 QuiBids: Yes, this is still on the top of my list. QuiBids is the largest penny auction site in the world and it's crown is certainly well deserved. It has kept it's cool and flourished where others have floundered. It has a very strong commitment to keeping bidders happy and always has a Buy Now option so you don't have to lose any money at all. The QuiBids store is a great new resource that has helped the company survive and sometime the price is less than Amazon!

See how QuiBids does on the Google Trends for the search word 'QuiBids': It's peak is after the crazy 2011 period.

#2 Beezid: Beezid is well known for making penny auctions more popular than the niche of bidders. They run commercials, even today, on TV which is a strategy that didn't seem to have worked out too well of QuiBids but Beezid has perfected marketing. They have special events and extraordinary promos that keep bidders in the loop and wanting to come back.

#3 HappyBidDay: This has always been a surprise entry. On the surface, this site looks like any of the thousands of penny auction sites that had been around during the boom times. However, the business end is extremely dedicated and the site has only grown in popularity over time. It's almost incredible what you can accomplish if you're dedicated to your business and can stick through the tough times. As the business flourishes, bidders are rewarded with great deals, special promos and all the other goodies.It recently broke the Alexa traffic stats to be in the top 15,000 websites visited in the entire US.

#4 PennyGrab: PennyGrab was a late entry to the world of penny auctions and it doesn't run traditional penny auctions, rather running the timerless penny auctions. It has done surprisingly well and was always a well run penny auction company.

#5 DealDash: DealDash is another popular penny auction site that has seen ebbing and rising fortunes even during the boom times. However, the site has kept true to its word of serving the consumers first and therefore was able to survive. It has a loyal customer base and they didn't seem to have defected because they got all the good deals here.

What are your favorite penny auctions?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Should you Bid on Quibids? A Case Study

It is profitable to bid on QuiBids? What are your chances of winning and losing? I will try to answer a few questions in this post through a case study.

As part of year end blog posts at QuiBids, they released this blog post which talks about the "biggest wins" of 2012. I couldn't find anything about the "biggest losers" of 2012, so I thought I'll go find some auctions where this disparity is high. I don't have access to the full database of course, so this is more of a trail and error for me. If you have a better example, let me know in the comments.

First off, the product: Panasonic Massage Chair. There are several models but QuiBids doesn't mention that on the auction page for some reason. To make sure I was looking at the right model, I Googled for the reviews posted at QuiBids and went to the appropriate Amazon page. Here is that product at Amazon:

As you can see, at Amazon the cost of this chair is $2037.98 with free shipping. I am also noting the shipping costs because these definitely add to your final price that you as a consumer pay. If there were no QuiBids i.e. you are not looking to purchase this at a regular ecommerce website, chances are you'll go to Amazon and spend $2037.98 for this chair.

Now, enter Quibids. You either have a chance to win this product at a discount, which can range from ridiculously cheap to barely scraping a profit. How competitive the auction is impossible to predict because every auction is unique. Here are two extreme scenarios -

Here is an auction that ended ridiculously cheap so the winner ended up with a huge discount.

The product sold for $1.85, i.e. 185 bids in all. Valuing voucher bids the same as regular bids, the total revenue through bids for this auction was 185X$0.60 = $111. The winner used just 7 voucher bids! Most certainly, QuiBids lost money on this auction. However, the beauty of this model is, on an average, QuiBids comes up on top.

Here is another auction that ended ridiculously expensive for the same product above.

In the above auction, bidders placed a total of 34,462 bids. Valuing voucher bids the same as regular bids, the total revenue through bids for this auction was 34,462X$0.60 = $20,677.20. QuiBids made a killer profit here. The profit from this auction would have covered them from ten of above auctions that ended up cheaper.

The more astute among the readers would now ask, what about Buy Now? That is a great question because we, from the outside, will not have statistics for how many people end up buying the product at its full retail price after bidding on the auction. This is never revealed by QuiBids. I don't want to make an uneducated guess at this number.

However, let me claim something better - QuiBids makes a profit irrespective of how many people exercised their Buy It Now option! Look again at my first picture, where I show this chair at Amazon. Now look at the QuiBids Buy It Now price - it is invariably higher.

By buying in bulk, I assume QuiBids gets a better discount, but the purpose of this post isn't to try to figure out how much money QuiBids makes but how much you can save. So your best bet is the Amazon price. Here are your options, then assuming you didn't win the auction and want to use the Buy It Now feature at QuiBids:
1. Buy at Amazon and spend $2037.98
2. Buy at QuiBids and spend $2185.99 + $29.99 (shipping) = $2215.98
A difference of $178.

This means if you use the Buy It Now feature, even then you end up losing $178 on this product compared to the market price. I haven't even tried to explore things like flash sales, other discount online stores in addition to Amazon, and other options. I don't know what the best deal online would be.

In a nutshell, for this product, you are paying $178 for a chance to win it at a price lower than the retail price at Amazon. Whether this is good or bad, I leave such judgments to you. It worked out really well for the winner in the cheaper auction and still worked out quite alright for the winner of the second auction, but not so well for all the other bidders who lost.

Also, lets not forget a time investment. In the second QuiBids auction, a total of 34,462 bids were placed. Now I don't know the average time between bids because it depends a lot on the bidding strategies that people are using. I didn't personally follow the auction either to know how long it lasted. Assuming an average of 3 seconds between bids, the total time investment would be 34,462X3secondsX1hour/3600seconds = 28.72 hours. That's a lot of time spent by a lot of people (of course not everyone will stay from the beginning to the end).

This post also highlights the role of luck no matter how much you know your QuiBids strategies. Of course, the real strategy is first to shop and bid wisely - know what you want and don't want and look up its price on alternative sources. Know the risk you are taking and make a judgment whether it is worth it or not.

What are your thoughts on this?