Tophatter is a live auction website with a variety of auction rooms. I am not a seller on there anymore as of earlier this month, but I was a seller on there for two years. I also had a 5 star seller rating out of 5 stars. The auction rooms with strange looking animated avatars and a chat function are fast paced. Each lot goes up for auction one after the other, and each lot is only up for a few seconds or a little bit more. It is a fast way to make money if the seller has items that sell well, but the huge fees eat into any profit made. Tophatter has the biggest fees out of any ecommerce website. The fees are the scheduling fee (whether or not the lot sells), a percentage of the final sale amount, a percentage of the shipping cost, and the PayPal or Braintree fee. The scheduling fee is anywhere from $1 to $2.75. A no sale or a poor sale is a big hit in profit, especially in the auctions that have a scheduling fee of $2.75. A seller is forced to pay their fees once it reaches $50. Sadly, it is easy to reach $50 in a few days or less.
The buyers that Tophatter attracts are far different from any other selling platform, such as eBay. The buyers tend to mostly be bargain shoppers. Tophatter’s advertising strategy has not helped either towards buyers expecting low prices on even the most expensive items. Their ads, such as what they put online using Facebook advertising, normally mention that many items start at $1. However, that is not true. The majority of items start low, but not at $1. There are two auctions that require $1 starting bids, and both of them run daily. These auctions are the Daily Showcase and the Dollar Daze Bazaar. The majority of sellers starting items low does not help bring higher closing bids. It has come to be expected from buyers that lots can go for almost nothing. Lately, bidding has been very poor compared to earlier. The bidding on the website now is awful compared to when the live auction website opened.
The chat function in the live auction rooms are useful features for buyers to ask the seller up on the block questions. What does not help is when sellers completely ignore the questions, entering descriptions of the lot into the chat room without answering the questions. Even though there are sellers that do this, those same sellers have no problem with thanking the winner when the bidding is over. The chat function used to also be in use by sellers and buyers to chat amongst themselves. The auction room used to be a fun place with all of the fun discussions going on. Sellers and buyers also cheered other sellers and buyers on as the bidding intensified. Now, the chat function is rarely used, with usually only the seller using it to give information about their lot. I do not know how it happened. Even most new members do not bother to use the chat function. There are theories among long-standing Tophatter sellers about why this drastic change occurred. One of those theories is that the staff constantly muted or suspended members for unfair reasons. I will not get into the reasoning behind that and other theories.
Tophatter is not a profitable website to sell on for many people. The staff have even said that Tophatter is not expected to be a sole source of online income. They said that the website should be used as a supplement to other venues such as an online store. Either way, the profit margin is poor. I assume that the majority of sellers would not want to bring the bargain shoppers of Tophatter to their other venues.