Monday, December 5, 2016

Japanese Auction Proxy Bidding Interim Comparison: JAUCE & Buyee

I've been a creature of habit when it comes to Japanese online auctions.  Up until about 6 years ago, I used to have a friend do most of the legwork for me in Japan when I was bidding on auctions, but once I started winning 2-3 auctions a week I decided to switch to a proxy bidding service to preserve our friendship.  I landed on Japan AUction CEnter (JAUCE) and have been using them until last month.  Raz over at The Raz Card Blog did a nice write up on a service called Buyee.  After doing some research on several other proxy bidding companies as well, I decided to give Buyee a try to see if JAUCE was still the proxy service for me or if I needed to move on from them.......I've considered JAUCE to be the Cadillac of proxy bidding services and they have not disappointed.  ~500 auctions later I have yet to have a single auction issue with anything I have won and have received each and every item which is a testament to both Japanese sellers and JAUCE.  There have been the occasional JAUCE server issues, but I have had no complaints...other than they are one of the more expensive services.  If I can save a good amount of money with another company, I'd be willing to switch since more money saved is more auctions to long as the service is comparable.  So after a month of trials, here are my preliminary results...and I plan on one more month of trials with Buyee before I make my final decision, but Buyee does look promising.

I purchase six items over this shipping period (4 from Yahoo Auctions and 2 from Rakuten), which is only 1 month in the case of Buyee, since they start charging you storage fees after that (More on that later, but booooo.......this is my biggest complaint with Buyee).  I compared my last three JAUCE shipments to this Buyee shipment to help me draw some interim conclusions which I decided to compare below.  First, here are the items I purchased (an assortment of modern, vintage, and a couple of magazines):
Storage Fee Time
Winner: JAUCE
This is the most annoying thing about Buyee....they only give you 30 days to store items and on average it takes 1 week by the time you win an auction until they log the item in their warehouse.  So once your first item arrives the clock begins.  I have several more auctions that I have won, but could not include them in this package, because they did not arrive before I had to consolidate and ship.  JAUCE, on the other hand, gives you 60 days.  This allows you to spread the shipping costs over more auctions.

Consolidation Fee
Winner: JAUCE
Each of these services charges a consolidation fee.  Buyee is ¥1000 for three or more auction consolidations...¥500 for two.  JAUCE is only ¥400 for two or more.  When you have to gather and ship items so quickly with Buyee, this can really eat into any cost savings they have over JAUCE.

Auction Fees
Winner: Buyee
This is where Buyee shines over JAUCE.  Fees are a lot lower when it comes to winning and paying for auctions.  So far, Buyee service is on par with JAUCE and I actually like their software a bit better.  They allow you to set up snipe bidding which can be a blessing to prevent some early morning auction bidding which tends to happen as auctions end in the evening in Japan and morning here in the States.  On top of it, Buyee directly debits your PayPal account instead of you having to transfer money to a JAUCE account.  With JAUCE, that money is tied up until you win the auction, or are outbid.  With Buyee, you don't pay until you win so it makes it easier to win auctions in my opinion.

Japan Domestic Shipping
Winner: JAUCE
If I win more auctions, this is where I think Buyee is going to get really annoying.  They don't allow sellers to consolidate packages so you have to pay for shipping two times if you win two items from the same seller...on top of it, they require sellers to send packages via a trackable means....which can drastically increase the cost of shipping with lower priced items.  If you are buying from Rakuten or Yahoo Shopping, you might not notice a difference since shipping likely includes tracking.  But many auctions on Yahoo Auctions are free shipping, however, Buyee will force the seller to send it with tracking and they will pass the cost on to you.  JAUCE doesn't require that and I have not had a problem with anything ever just is the way Buyee is set up to make processing at the warehouse easier.

Snipe Bidding Service
Winner: Buyee
As I mentioned before, Buyee software is more capable and allows you to bid live or set snipes.  Sniping is really handy due to the time difference...I'm not sure if the other proxy bidding services do this, but JAUCE needs to jump on board with this.

International Shipping
Winner: JAUCE
This is where I think JAUCE outdoes Buyee.  The packages that I get from JAUCE are beautifully packed and each item is well protected with bubble wrap... and I didn't have to pay as much for consolidation nor EMS.  Buyee did a good job, but not as good as JAUCE.  I also had an issue with Buyee's software where I picked the cheaper air mail option and paid...a few days later Buyee issued me a refund and said it was too heavy to ship that method.  Not sure why they gave me the option, but when I went back in to select EMS, the original option was now grayed out.  Software glitch and a minor annoyance for sure.

Payment Method
Winner: Buyee
Hands down, I like to pay only when I win like Buyee does it...instead of putting money into a JAUCE account and having to pay a service fee on top of it to do so.  So Buyee directly taking money out of my PayPal account is nice and much cheaper.  This has always bugged me about JAUCE and I can't tell you the hundreds of dollars I've spent just sending them money to spend with them.  Boo on JAUCE.

Here are some rough statistics on the last four shipments I had coming from Japan (3 from JAUCE and 1 from Buyee)

JAUCE Shipment #1: Hammer Price vs Total Price Percentage - 64% (so 36% in fees)
JAUCE Shipment #1: Average Hammer Price vs Total Cost Per Lot - 50% (The higher % the better)
JAUCE Shipment #2: Hammer Price vs Total Price Percentage - 54% (so 46% in fees)
JAUCE Shipment #2: Average Hammer Price vs Total Cost Per Lot - 51% (The higher % the better)
JAUCE Shipment #3: Hammer Price vs Total Price Percentage - 72% (so 28% in fees)
JAUCE Shipment #3: Average Hammer Price vs Total Cost Per Lot - 62% (The higher % the better)
Buyee Shipment #1: Hammer Price vs Total Price Percentage - 64% (so 36% in fees)
Buyee Shipment #1: Average Hammer Price vs Total Cost Per Lot - 57% (The higher % the better)

Interim Conclusion - I'm going to have to get lucky I think with the Japanese Domestic Shipping charges and how much they charge for trackable shipping I said, that could really eat into any savings they have over JAUCE.  My JAUCE Shipment #3 was sort of an enigma as there were a bunch of high-priced items so the fee percentage is naturally lower.  The first two JAUCE shipments had about half the auctions and lower priced per auction so the fee percentage is higher.  Okay, I'll report back after another month of so and I'll let you know if I am going to make the ultimate switch.


  1. It's interesting to see how the different fee structures, storage, and shipping policies interact to make up the final numbers. There are so many variables that it will be difficult to crown a winner, I think. If you were buying one or two particularly things on a regular schedule it would be relatively easy to calculate, but the nature of collecting and auctions makes it unpredictable. JAUCE's linger storage period and the ability to combine shipping are factors that seem to balance in their favor when it comes to auctions.

    I thought about ordering that Sports Card Magazine # 120, but never got around to pulling the trigger on it.

  2. There are a bunch of different services for sure. I did a cost comparison spreadsheet and Buyee is on the lower cost end, JAUCE on the higher end and a good handful in between. Each one has their "niche" areas though so not anyone is best for everyone... it appears a lot depends on your buying habits as you pointed out.

  3. Shopping Mall Japan does the same thing with the domestic shipping which is among the reasons I don't use them.

    So BUYEE doesn't want a deposit? I'm going to have to give them a try.

    Have you looked into getting the Sports Card Magazines from Amazon Japan? Shipping via DHL is usually $10-ish and remarkably fast.

    1. Buyee is handy in how you bid and pay for auctions. It is much cheaper. If you are only winning single auctions and they are of somewhat higher price, it is the way to go. I usually get my SCM from Amazon Japan direct....I just wanted to try ordering items through Rakuten and since I had the other items to ship it turned out to be a little cheaper. Jury is still out, _we'll have to see how this next shipment goes.