Enter the world of auction-selling with David Zinberg founder of Bids.com (episode 302)

David Zinberg is the CEO and Founder of Bids.com. An online auction marketplace focused on jewelry, accessories and collectibles. Founded in
2018 they now have over 200,000 registered users and have grown over 300% in the last year.

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How David Got Into eCommerce

Before going into eCommerce, David ran a chain of pawn shops. In an effort to better control inventory he would collect all the foreclosed jewelry and sell it on eBay.

He says he quickly realized that selling on eBay wasn’t a long term solution and decided he needed to build his own platform.

He worked out a lot of kinks on his original platform that he eventually scrapped in favor of bids.com

Why eBay isn’t Great For Auction

David quickly realized that eBay is no longer a functional auction site and functions more like a marketplace, which wasn’t an ideal situation for his product. 

He points out that if you look at the action metric on eBay, you’ll see that it hovers around 1.5% – 2%. The extreme supply that eBay allows works against the ability of the site to function as a good auction place.

Building a proprietary auction site enabled David to quickly turn jewelry around for cash. 

Incentivizing Big Traffic Volume

David received one golden piece of advice from the person who sold him his first pawn shop in LA.

He said “It’s not the business — it’s the business man who makes a business succeed.” He took this to heart when he built out his own auction site and has relied on clever marketing tactics to grow the traffic volume on bids.com.

One example of how David has been pushing innovative ideas in marketing to drive volume and increase their business is an exciting new idea David and his team are working on at the time of this recording.

They will be launching an easy to use, Multi-Level-Marketing program that will allow consumers to sell bids.com products.


Bids.com is built with Shopify, but they are currently relaunching the site with an upgraded look. 

Growth Factors

David cites two primary factors that have driven growth at bids.com

  • Increase in Online Shopping: No doubt, Covid has had a big impact on the growth of bids.com. People are eager to shop from home and the bids team has made full refund returns easy so there is an added sense of security.
  • A Clear Marketing Message: David has been using one simple offer to drive growth: the $1 no reserve auction

Understand Your Competitive Advantage

Understand your competitive advantage above all.

If your competitive advantage is that you have a premium brick and mortar location — knowing that won’t translate to an online/eCommerce advantage will allow you to reconsider where you can create new opportunities.

Consider what your advantage really is. Perhaps it’s your clever marketing skills. David says that succeeding online doesn’t come from simply taking beautiful pictures—you have to know your advantage. 

Is Auction For You?

To build a successful auction business, you have to have a great competitive advantage and a great product. If you are savvy, snappy and willing to find your distinctive advantage, the auction business might work for you.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

  • YouTube—Rather than read a book, go to YouTube and watch videos that people have made who have done the same thing you want to do.
  • Shark Tank—David says he’s been watching for years and amazingly, no one ever takes the good advice. Follow your dreams, but consider the advice too.

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Offering your own customers rewards for bringing you more customers
  • Social Media is KING. Know what you’re doing, be careful and go slow.

Tool Top Tip

Growth Top Tip

  • It’s a simple formula of having a product no one else does, priced accordingly and you’ll be able to sell it

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • William May Jewellers’ Jonny Lomax discusses doubling Christmas sales in a difficult product category
  • Taking a jewellery site from 0 to $3m in 3 years, and then exiting with Ashish Malhotra
  • How the world’s largest art gallery do it – Rebecca Wilson from Saatchi Art

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