Online auctions: how to save money on shopping from Japan


So, you registered on the website and deposited the money on your account. Now, when browsing the auctions catalogue, you can see the bidding form to take part in bidding.

Every lot has a start price and a minimum bid, a minimum amount of money by which the next bid must exceed the current highest bid.

Let’s imagine, you are going to bid on a camera which costs JPY 12,000 and the minimum bid is JPY 500. You are ready to pay JPY 20,000 and you make this bid. But other bidders can see that the camera is available at JPY 12,500 not 20,000. So, why is that?

The answer is an auction sniper, an auction software that places a bid likely to exceed the current highest bid (which may be hidden) as late as possible – very often it is seconds before the end of the auction, so that other bidders have no time to outbid the sniper.

For instance, another bidder makes a bid of JPY 14,000 to beat the start price. The auction sniper places a minimum bid so that the camera will cost JPY 14,500 and you remain the leader. The sniper will place bids as far as someone’s bid exceeds your JPY 20,000. If there are no other bids placed, you will get the camera at JPY 14,500, despite the fact that you were ready to pay JPY 20,000.