Auction Software Tiers


Tier 1 Bottom Tier (typically priced under $1000.00)

Tier 2 Mid-Range (typically priced $2000-$5000)

Tier 3 High End (typically priced at $50K or more)


Usually written in a "free" language such as ASP, PHP or Perl. Although these languages work fine for many applications there are often problems when used in connection with "high-end" applications such as auction software. Typically written in a high-end language such as ColdFusion ™ (Adobe Corporation) Although there is an entry cost for developers the language is robust enough to stand up to intensive use. Another language that would fall into this category is C++. Usually a custom designed solution for individual clients and written in a language robust enough to fulfill enterprise level requirements. Staffs of programmers lead by a project manager ensure the integrity of the development.

Company Profile

Usually a home or garage based business. Owner is typically a programmer who has a day job and sells auction software as a side business. Typically a small to mid-sized company. These companies usually have a customer service and technical department. Large company, perhaps in the Fortune 1000. Offers a wide array of services. Very reliable.


Some companies sell their software as inexpensively as possible in order to make up for what may be lacking in other areas. If pricing falls below the $500.00 range caution is advised since the company may not generate sufficient cash flow to maintain operations for the long term.

Software is sold at at a mid-range price that is consistent with the business model of the company. Accomodations are often made to meet clients' budgetary requirements. Typically these companies deal with clients for whom price is not a major issue. Customer service and support is usually included and often individualized based on clients' needs.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is usually very good. Typically a graphic designer has already created an enticing "look-and-feel" for the auction site. Usually designs are tied to stock templates and changes are often restricted. Most of their clients do not need a custom designed site. Company usually has the ability and resources to adapt the software to the look-and-feel preferences of the client. At least one graphic designer is usually on staff. These clients typically have their own ideas of how they want their auction Web site to look. Top-of-the-line designers are used to create a customized look and feel for the client auction site. Typically all the latest tools are used including Macromedia Flash ™ Much of the cost is actually associated with Web site design.


The software is usually not customizable or can only be customized within certain restricted areas.

Software can usually be customized both through an "Administrator" interface and on a text file level. Software is usually customizable but companies often restrict access to certain files in order to maintain their viability as a service provider.

Open Source Code

The source code is usually not available for the client. Some companies sell source code separately at a much higher price than the original software.

Most companies release the full source code. Check with the company to make sure if this is an important issue for you. Since these companies provide a customized solution for each client, source code is usually included in the package.


This software usually reaches a point beyond which it cannot be scaled up any further. These packages are best used with auction sites that will not get a lot of traffic. Problems relating to software robustness (memory leaks, etc.) are common if the site needs to accommodate a significant amount of "hits". Usually a deployment using multiple servers is not viable. Highly scalable. Can be deployed across multiple servers. Will typically accommodate millions of auctions and "hits". Highly scalable. Can be deployed across multiple servers. Will typically accommodate millions of auctions and "hits".

Feature Set

Typically has a standard feature set that most users would expect from auction software. All features desired by individual users may not be present so it is important to check to make sure that the particular features you want are there.

Full feature set. Since these companies typically have programmers on staff unique features can be added at the clients' request. Full feature set adapted to the clients' preferences.

Software "Bugs"

Bugs will usually be encountered but some may not be as serious as others. Small companies without a programming staff or beta testers will typically have more problems in this area. Software from these companies is typically "bug free" since they have the resources to thoroughly debug the software before its release. Software customizations should always have an adequate test period prior to deployment to ensure that there are no remaining bugs. The final version of the developed software is usually "bug free" as long as there has been an adequate test period. These companies are typically extremely cautious and go to great lengths to ensure the integrity of their final product.

Customer Support

Because of the size of companies in this tier customer support is typically not available by phone. If phone support is available it is often sporadic. These companies usually offer an email response within 48 hours. Phone support is usually available for questions relating to the use of the software, technical questions and the status of ongoing projects. Support is also offered by email with the typical response time being within a few hours if requests are made during the business day. These companies offer excellent support by both phone and email. Some companies utilize support personnel in countries like India in order to offer round-the-clock support.

Ease of Use

Software is typically easy to use but often cannot be adapted to customer preferences. Software is typically easy to use and can be modified to meet specific customer preferences. Since these companies do a customized design the end result is adapted to the particular client involved. It will be easy to use to the extent that the client specifies.

Company Stability

Most auction software companies that have gone out of business in the last five years fall into this category. Although certain individuals may be more stable than others as a group these companies tend to lack stability. If the company has been in business five years or more it is usually a safe bet to consider it stable. These companies are typically very stable but no one is immune from negative market forces should they occur.

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