This guide will show you how to create an eBay-like auction website. This guide will be using WordPress to create the site. The WP Auctions plugin will build the foundation and bidding functions, with further steps to expand the site if necessary.
We will show you how to build everything from scratch so that it is easy for you to get up and running quickly.
WordPress is a popular blogging platform. It started as a blogging platform. However, WordPress has evolved over the years to become a flexible “content management system”. This means that you can create, edit, and manage any kind of content, including auction/bidding content.
Be aware that not everyone is able to set up an auction site using WordPress.
This is how I would generally break it down. If:
- You are looking for something small, i.e. not a multimillion-dollar platform like eBay, to use as a personal tool, event auction, small business or to start a new concept before you invest thousands in custom development.
- You want complete control of your site.
- You don’t want to pay fees or be locked into other platforms that are not for profit organizations and event auctions.
- A little bit of technical work doesn’t make you feel intimidated (e.g., the acronym FTP makes you more curious than fearful).
- A common platform with a large developer community is important so you can easily expand if necessary.
- You are developing a well-established auction business.
- You need all technical details taken care
- A dedicated customer support line is what you need
If WordPress is not a good fit for your auction website, I recommend Bidding Owl.
Let’s get started!
Quick disclosure: I am paid customer referral fees by the companies mentioned in this article. All opinions are based upon my experience as a paying client or consultant to a customer paying.
Getting Started – Setting up the Website
The first step in setting up an auction website/marketplace is to point your domain name to your hosting account. This will allow you to access the location of your website. The next step is to install WordPress on your hosting account. This will allow you to log in, configure it, and personalize it.
This is my step-by-step guide to setting up WordPress from scratch.
Remember that hosts require more memory for PHP than standard WordPress installations. Auction sites can be more complicated and take up more memory than simple blogs.
A shared Linux hosting account is a good option if you are starting small (a few auctions and low numbers of visitors per month), but it must have at least 64M memory, preferably 256M.
HostGator is my preferred hosting provider (see their plans HERE), with InMotion Hosting (see their plans HERE) and BlueHost(see their plans HERE). I’ve reviewed them all here, here and here.
You will need a managed hosting account from a company such as WPEngine, or a VPS hosting account from HostGator if you are starting off big (lots and auctions, thousands of visitors per day).
This is my step-by-step guide to setting up WordPress from scratch.
Installing WP Auctions plugin
Once you’ve installed WordPress, we will use a plugin that extends the functionality of WordPress to allow you to run auctions.
Although there are many auction plugins, WP Auctions is the best and most reliable. The plugin costs $35-$89, depending on the plan you choose. This is a one-time payment. I found that the price was justified considering the quality of the plugin and the support it provides. There were too many ads, suspicious code and very few updates for the free auction plugins to be worth it. These instructions will look similar if you choose another option, but the rest will use WP Auctions.
Here is WP Auctions’ sales pitch (a little dated but still pertinent) and tutorial.
First, Go to WP auctions and buy the plugin.
Second Download the plugin to a folder in your computer.
Third Login to your WordPress installation. Go to the Dashboard and click on Plugins – New. Upload the plugin folder to your computer and then install. After the plugin is installed, activate it and we’ll get to work setting it up.
Setup WP Auctions
All information for WP Auctions can be found under the WP Auctions tab in the sidebar. It is fully functional and ready to use with customizable options for the design and notifications.
You can adjust a few settings in the Auction Settings section.
You can find the following settings under General Settings
- Change the name of your auction title to reflect your brand or event
- Check out other settings. Keep the default setting until you set up your first auction.
- Proxy bidding is the default auction engine. It is used by sites such as eBay. The engine raises your maximum bid until you have reached your maximum bid. You can also use a reverse-auction or traditional (Simple), bidding system.
- Click on Update Options
Below Payment Settings:
- Log in to your PayPal account
- Click on the Update button
- Enter a URL for a payments page, such as [yoursite].com/payments
- Next, click on the Pages link in the sidebar to add a new page. Add the shortcode [wpapayment] to the main editor and name the page Payments. It is now possible to publish it.
- Restore payment settings in Auction Settings, and then enter the details again as needed.
- Check and update your options
You can also see other settings:
Pay attention to the setting for the Default Auction Page. The process for publishing the Default Auction Page is the same as that for the payments page. Go to Pages – Add New page and create a page using [wpadisplay] from the editor. Take note of the URL. It should be called Auctions.
Go back to Other Settings, and type the URL next to the Default Auction Page.
This page will display all of your active auctions. The rest of the auctions can remain in default until you set up your first auction. Check out and update your options.
Create Your First Auction
Navigate to New Auctions
The field “Show auction in AJAX Popup?” allows you to make the auction pop up instead of having it on its own page within WordPress. If you don’t wish to have a separate page for each auction and prefer to see all auctions from one page, this option can be enabled. If you don’t want it to be enabled, we will set up a post with the auction after saving.
Next, finish Shipping options.
Navigate to the WordPress Dashboard after you have finished updating Options. If you wish it to appear as a post, or as a page, you can create a new Post.
You will find a meta box to insert an auction under the main editor.
Click Insert Auction and choose the auction you wish to insert. You can also click Bind post to auction. This function attaches the auction directly to a specific post. You can attach all the places your auction appears, such as notification emails, within WordPress backend etc, to this auction.
It makes it simple to add multiple auctions quickly. WP Auctions will show you that a post that has been bound to an auction will automatically appear in the auction settings.
Congratulations! You now have an active eBay auction on your site. This is all you need to create an auction/marketplace website like eBay.
Design and user experience are the two most important issues that must be addressed.
If you have multiple versions of the same product, WP Auctions offers a Templates option. You can customize the Design Settings to match your website’s design. It also has an optional Email Setting that can be customized to personalize the bidders experience.
Take it further
WordPress plugins are amazing because you can extend them and make them do what you want.
WP Auctions allows any subscriber who registers to your website to create new auctions by default. This function is similar to eBay’s and allows you to grow your true marketplace/auction website.
WP Auctions offers additional resources for building your auction site .
Take a look at my Beginner’s Guide to WordPress if you want to learn more about WordPress.