What is a Reserve Price Reverse Auction?

April 18th, 2011

There are all types of Reverse Auctions and unique reasons to use each in order to encourage the best participation and interaction.

In a reserve price reverse auction, the buyer establishes a “reserve price”, the maximum amount the buyer will pay for the goods or services being auctioned. This is also sometimes called the desired price, or a “qualification price”. Careful thought is required on the part of the retailer in determining their reserve price. I personally have seen retailers try to just use their existing price from their last contract. This type of practice may set unreasonable expectations, particularly if the market has changed dramatically in an upward direction since the last award of business. In today’s market, fuel would be a great example of something that you would not set a reserve price based on a previous contract if you wanted incumbent or new suppliers to take you seriously.

Traditionally, if the bidding does not reach the “reserve price”, the buyer is not obligated to award the business based on the results of the reverse auction. However once the reserve price is met, the buyer is obligated to award the business to a participating supplier or group suppliers based on previously published auction rules.

Additional pricing considerations can be given to adding other price points or qualifiers in a reserve price reverse auction such as entering a market price. In the case of fuel, this may be from a price index such as OPIS. This information can be visible or blind to the supplier, but let’s the retailer compare a suppliers mark up strategies. This also offers a nice opportunity to calculate cost avoidance during an up market.

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