Alright, let’s give this ReviewMe thing another go. Many of you said that the last review was a touch (or a lot) on the lengthy side, so John and I have decided to cut the word count on this entry by about 33%. I appreciate any constructive criticism and invite you to take a gander at my blog and leave a comment or three there too.
Today, we’re taking a look at BassaBids.com, which takes the idea behind online auctions (like eBay) and turns it on its head. Instead of rewarding the product to the highest bidder, the winner of the auction is the person who has the lowest unique bid. They want to give people “access to goods very cheaply.”
The Lowest Unique Bid
It’s not a completely original idea, because I’m sure I’ve heard about this somewhere before. I think there was someone that was selling their Sony PlayStation 3 this way. That was a one-time deal, though, while BassaBids.com appears to be here to stay. Where else can you get your hands on a brand-new second-generation iPod Shuffle for just 11 cents? Still don’t get it? I’ll let the BassaBid crew explain:
The “lowest unique bidder” is the person who has bid the lowest amount that no other person has bid. When two people place the same bid, that number is no longer unique. When a person has a unique bid but there are others that are lower, then it’s not the lowest. To win any of BassaBids online auctions, you must be the one with the lowest AND unique bid at the auction end – the “lowest unique bid”.
At this time, they only have one live auction — an iPod Shuffle — so in some ways, BassaBids.com draws some similarities to Woot.com. In the future, I’m sure that they will have multiple auctions going on at the same time. After all, they’re still in beta, so there are surely kinks to iron out before they’re ready to the do the full launch.
What’s In It For Them?
One of my first reactions to BassaBids was how do the developers — a couple of “die-hard online auction participants” — make money on this site? If they’re going around shipping iPod shuffles to people for 11 cents, they’ve got to be losing out, right? Something must be seriously wrong with the business model. Or so I thought.
When I went to check out the How It Works page, I saw this:
For the auctions that are not free you must pay to participate. Each bid costs , with no minimum amount to purchase.
Notice how there’s a pretty important piece of information missing from that sentence? It seems that when they get themselves out of beta, users will have to pay a fee to participate in a number of auctions. I’m just pulling these numbers out of thin air, but say, for example, that each time you bid, it costs you a quarter. If there are 1000 bids on that particular item, then BassaBids has received $250 in revenue. A clip-tastic 1GB iPod Shuffle sells for $79. That’s a profit of $170 (before shipping costs and so forth).
For hardcore auctioners, maybe BassaBids will offer monthly or annual memberships that provide unlimited bids. They’d make even more money if they can convince companies like Apple to provide their products for free or in exchange for some advertising space.
Clean, But Somewhat Bare
In this era of Web 2.0 and all that, more people are starting to value white space. We’re tired of cluttered websites that are impossibly difficult to navigate. Luckily, BassaBids does not fall into this terrible pit. In keeping with the user-friendliness, they have selected blue as the predominant color for the site (just as John did for this blog). Getting around the site is pretty easy.
Personally, I think that they should have dedicated the front page to a basic introduction and a rudimentary “how it works” explanation, at least until the site (and its concept) becomes better known. As it stands now, you see the available auctions in the marketplace and who the past winners were. The problem with this is that they only have one active auction right now, teasing us with bigger ticket items like a MacBook Pro and a MINI Cooper S Convertible. You’ll also notice that those auctions tell us how many bids they have remaining, with larger numbers allotted for pricier items. This is further evidence of my initial suspicion: BassaBids gets paid per bid.
Something else I’d like to note is that the “bid” page is about as empty as it gets. There’s a text entry box where you put your bid, a button to confirm it… and basically nothing else. I don’t want flashy graphics, but it could stand to get jazzed up just a touch.
Great for Penny Pinchers
I’m cheap. I’ve never denied that. With BassaBids, I have the opportunity to nab products for well below their MSRP. They even reward me for being cheap, shipping the item to the person with the lowest (unique) bid.
In terms of things I’d like to see improved: The “Join” link wasn’t featured nearly as prominently as it could have been on the front page. As an upstart operation looking to grow, I would think that they would be working harder to recruit new members. Also, the main links in the top toolbar are simple text links that look kind of cheap next to the more professional buttons that surround it. Otherwise, I’m pretty pleased with it, but I’ll withhold any sort of final conclusion until BassaBids gets out of beta. After all, it’s hard to rate when you only have one item available.