EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1537 - May 14, 2007     2 of 3

eBay Snipes Sniping Software with Bid Groups Feature

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While it's not certain who first introduced a "bid groups" feature for eBay bidders, third-party vendors have offered them in sniping software for years. Now it looks like eBay will begin offering bid groups directly to bidders through a feature called Bid Assistant.

Bid groups allows bidders looking for a particular item to choose several auctions and place a single maximum bid for the entire group of items. The program places bids on bidders' behalf on the auction ending soonest and continues until an auction is won, then it stops. This gives bidders a better chance of winning an item they want in a specified period of time, without the risk of winning more than one item.

While eBay has not announced the new feature, its help file includes a section on Bid Assistant that describes bid groups (, and eBay told its developers about the feature on May 7 in its Release Notes (

It does not appear that the feature will offer the last-second bidding that sniping software programs offer. Sniping is a term for the practice of placing bids in the last few seconds of an auction in an attempt to win the auction without driving up the selling price. Users can snipe manually, or they can use software from third-parties that lets them schedule last-second bids so they don't have to be at their computer at the end of an auction.

eBay does not condone sniping programs (nor does it forbid them). Sniping software developers are not allowed to use eBay's API.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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