Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Build an Auction Site with WordPress

updated on Dec 06, 2016
How to Build an Auction Site with WordPress If you are looking for an easy way to build your own eBay-like auction site, WordPress should be a proper solution for its great customizability and powerful features brought by plugins.

In fact, there are two methods for starting an auction site with WordPress – using a premium theme, or a plugin. The latter is usually more recommended because it enables you to change the appearance of your site at any time. Also, with a plugin, you can easily add an auction section to an existing site to take advantage of your current community. This tutorial, then, only focuses on the plugin method.

Which Features to Look for in a Good Auction Plugin

There are various choices for the auction plugin, but some differences exist among each of them which may affect the way you create and manage auctions. You can make a choice according to your exact needs, but generally speaking, the following features should be included in the plugin.
  • Supporting multiple images and custom descriptions for each auction.
  • Supporting item search and the "buy now" option.
  • Integrating with multiple payment gateways.
  • Letting your users to create accounts in order to bid.
  • Enabling you to charge if you allow users to list items.
  • Supporting email notifications, private messaging and reviews.
With these standards in mind, we have selected the Ultimate WordPress Auction plugin for this tutorial because of the ease of use and quite rich features.

About Ultimate WordPress Auction

It is so far the most popular auction plugin for WordPress-based sites. The popularity is mainly due to the good maintenance, and more importantly, the rich features. The plugin is compatible with any WordPress theme, so no matter which theme you are using, it can fit in.

By using the plugin, you are able to create, edit, delete and end auctions, reactivate the expired auctions, upload multiple images for each product, add a countdown timer, etc. Besides, "Buy Now" with PayPal, Lightbox image display, and email notifications are all supported. Your users can register to place bids.

Ultimate WordPress Auction

If you only need to add auctions by yourself, then the free version is enough. After installing the plugin and activating it by following our guides, you can refer to the steps below to get things set up and add auctions.

Set up the Plugin

When the plugin is activated, you will see an "Ultimate Auction" menu item in WordPress dashboard. Clicking on the menu item, you will be led to the settings page where you have a lot of things to do, among which the first is to deal with the general settings of the plugin, including the payment, auction, and email notifications.

For the Payment Settings, you first need to choose a currency from the dozens of choices. Then, you can decide which payment option(s) to be enabled. The available choices include PayPal, Wire Transfer, Cheque and Cash. After making changes, you will have to save them.

Payment Settings

For the Auction Settings, there are multiple options to deal with. Here are our suggestions.
  • Only allow logged-in users to bid in order to prevent spam.
  • Create a custom auction feeder page with the shortcode provided on the page, and then use the URL of the page as the "Auction Page URL". This page is where your auctions will be listed.
  • Enter the URLs of your custom login page and registration page if they exist.
  • Show the comment section and the "send private message" options.

Auction Settings

And for the Email Settings, the only thing you should do is to enter an email address that receives the bid notifications. This is highly recommended since it allows you to check the bid information anywhere at any time.

Email Settings

Set up the Payment Methods

For the payment options you have enabled in the general settings, you have to set them up individually to make them work. The setup is easy since you only need to enter the information required by the plugin.

For example, if you accept payments via PayPal, you have to enter your PayPal email account, and select the account type as "Live". Of course, a "Sandbox" option is also available for testing your account. However, remember that for your PayPal account, you must set the "Auto Return URL" and enable the "Payment Data Transfer" for the proper function of PayPal payment.

PayPal Settings

Add New Auctions

After setting up the things mentioned above, you can start adding your first auction now. To do so, you need to click the "Add Auction" tab. Then you can see the creation form.

Firstly, you have to enter the product title, and offer a long detailed description for the product. The content of the description can be formatted as you like. An excerpt for the product is also required.

Auction Title and Description

The next step is to upload 1-4 images or videos for the product. One of those images/videos can be set as the thumbnail image as you like.

Auction Images

Then, you need to set up the opening price, the reserve price and the incremental value. The values are all based on your preferences.

Auction Price

At last, set an ending date to restrict the bidding to a certain period time. Also, you can define a buy now price with which users can buy the product directly with the payment method you offer.

Set Auction Time

With all these settings dealt with, save the auction. Then create more with the same steps if there is a need.

Display the Auctions on a WordPress Site

If you can remember, there is a shortcode provided in the "Auction Settings" which can be used to create an auction feeder page. In order to display the auctions you have created, you only need to create a new page on your WordPress site, give it a title, and then enter the shortcode [wdm_auction_listing]. After the page is published, you will see all your auctions on the page.

List Auctions

If you want the auctions to be found easily, you can also add the page to the navigation menu. This could be done easily by visiting Appearance > Menus, opening the "Pages" meta box, selecting the auction page, and adding it to the menu. You are able to adjust the order of the page in the menu freely by dragging it to the proper place.

Add Auction to Navigation Menu

Manage the Auctions

All the auctions you have added are listed under the "Manage Auctions" tab of the plugin's settings. For each of the auctions, you can view the creation and ending date, know the starting and current price, and see how many bids have been placed. Also, you can edit it, or end it immediately. An option of "Delete" is also available.

Manage Auctions

Allow Registered Users to Add Auctions

Allowing other users on your WordPress site to list their auctions not only helps you make money from the auction listing, but also contributes to the building your community. However, this is not a feature in the free version of Ultimate WordPress auction. So to use it, you have to buy a premium package with $59 for one site.

With the premium features enabled, you will be able to provide a frontend dashboard in which your users can add and manage their auctions. You can then charge listing fee and commission fee from the auctions. An auction widget, PayPal invoicing and auction scheduling are also supported.

Special Tip: Prepare an Agreement If You Allow Users to Sell

In the case that you allow others to add auctions on your site, you must pay attention to the legal things. To prevent the possible legal problems in the future, you have to get some advice from a lawyer, and then make an agreement. Anyone should agree to the terms completely before they can sell or bid through your WordPress site.

This is an important and necessary step to take, and you should spend much time discussing the legal issues and make them clear. If you want an easy way to add the agreement upon the user registration, refer to this simple tutorial.