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Although I’ve been using and working with WordPress for a while now, it still amazes me the type of websites you can build with it, simply by installing a few plugins and picking the right theme.

One such type of website that surprised me with how easily it can be built using WordPress is an auction site. These main features of this type of site include the ability to list items for sale that visitors can bid on with the highest bidder able to purchase the item. However, there are many more features that can be added to such as site as we will find out shortly.

In today’s post we will be looking at how to build an auction website with WordPress, including taking a look at the different tools available for adding this functionality to WordPress.

Choosing a Suitable Auction WordPress Theme

While any WordPress theme should allow you to build an auctions website, or add individual listings to it by installing the right plugin, there are some purpose built auction themes that have been created for those setting up this type of website with WordPress.

Responsive WordPress Auction Theme by SiteMile

ordPress Auction Theme by SiteMile

This theme actually includes all the features you need to create an auction website with WordPress. So not only do you get a great looking template but you don’t need to install any additional plugins to get your site up and running.

Auction specific features include: charge a percent fee per listing, allow visitors to make an offer, private messaging, zip/postcode search radius, user profiles and shops, plus much more.

Get Responsive WordPress Auction Theme

Auction Theme by PremiumPress

Auction Theme by PremiumPress

This is another app theme that includes all the features you need, removing the need to search for a suitable auction plugin.

The auction specific features in this theme include auto bidding, member areas with bidding history, user feedback and seller ratings, paid listings upgrades, charge listing fees, and import or export CSV or XML listings.

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Penny Auction Theme by SiteMile

Penny Auction Theme by SiteMile

If you want to create a penny auction site with WordPress – where users pay to submit bids at small increments until the pre-determined price is met – then this theme includes not only the design you need but also all the features required to build such a site.

The auction specific features of this theme include: multiple payment gateway integrations, creating bidding packages for your listings, social media integration, and email notifications.

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Choosing an the Right Auction Plugin

If you already have a theme that you want to use then the other option is to install a suitable plugin. The right plugin will add all the features and functionality to your WordPress site you need in order to start selling items using the auctioning system.

As this is the most important step in the process of creating an auction site using WordPress, its essential you carry out some research in order to find a plugin that meets your own personal requirements.

Common features of WordPress auction plugins include:

  • ·         Allow users to create accounts and start bidding or listing items
  • ·         Payment gateway integration
  • ·         Email notifications
  • ·         Private messaging
  • ·         Charge a fee to users for adding a listing
  • ·         End auctions early with a buy now option

Unfortunately it’s not possible to recommend a one size fits all auction plugin that will suit everybody. However, to make it easier to find the right one for your needs, here are some of the most popular options:

Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin

Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin
Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin

This is a free solution that has been downloaded 18,000 times and has a reassuring 4.7 out of 5 star rating. There is also a pro version which depending on your outlook on life, either means that the best features have been reserved for paying users, or you get the opportunity to extend the features of your auction site with ease by upgrading to the premium version in the future.

The main of the free Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin includes:

  • ·         Registered users can bid on auctions listed on your site
  • ·         Buy now option for listings
  • ·         Localised time zones
  • ·         Set reserve prices and bid increments
  • ·         Email notifications for all users including outbid notifications
  • ·         Countdown timer for each auction
  • ·         Works with any theme

There are also a few add-ons available for the free version, allowing you to add select features to your site, without paying the $79 for the pro version. The add-ons that are currently available for the free version of Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin include:

  • ·         PayPal Invoice: sends PayPal invoice to auction winners
  • ·         Shipping Cost: add a shipping cost to each auction for improved clarity
  • ·         Auction Categories: add a custom taxonomy for organising the auctions

The features these options add to the plugin can be obtained by purchasing the pro version. However, they are a cost effective way to add single features to the free version for those that don’t need the full feature set of the premium version.

This is a solid choice for creating a WordPress powered auction website where users can sign up and begin bidding on your products.

Get Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin

WordPress Auction Plugin

WordPress Auction Plugin

The free WordPress Auction Plugin boasts a quick setup time that aims to have you hosting your first auction in less than a few minutes.  While this plugin has been downloaded more times than the Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin, it has mixed reviews with an equal number of five star and one star reviews.

Useful features of this WordPress auction plugin include:

  • ·         Host unlimited number of auctions
  • ·         Accept payments with PayPal
  • ·         Choose from five auction display styles
  • ·         Auctions are displayed in an Ajax powered popup

The pro version of this plugin includes multiple bidding engines, set a buy it now and reserve price, more currencies to choose from, and a few more other features.

The free version of this plugin definitely has less useful features than the free version of the Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin. This makes it hard to recommend WP Auction Plugin to anyone looking for a free option.

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WooCommerce Simple Auctions

WooCommerce Simple Auctions
WooCommerce Simple Auctions plugin

This is a low cost premium add-on for the free WooCommerce ecommerce plugin. Once installed on your site, this plugin allows you to list items for sale on an auction basis. These items can be listed alongside your regularly priced inventory making it a great way to extend the functionality of your online store.

The plugin creates a new product type called auctions, which then allows you to list your items on a highest bidder wins basis. The WooCommerce Simple Auctions add-on includes lots of other premium features making this a great choice for WooCommerce users.

Get WooCommerce Simple Auctions

Guide to Creating an Auction Website with WordPress

In this guide you will get a quick overview on listing items for sale on your website using the auction format, where visitors can bid on the item, with the highest bidder winning the item when the end date of the auction is reached.

The first step is to choose a plugin that will add the necessary features to WordPress. You can either pick one from the options highlighted above, or choose another one, but for this example I will be using the free Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin.

Configuring the Auction Features

After installing the plugin (Plugins > Add New > search for Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin), a new menu item is added to the admin sidebar entitled Ultimate Auction.

 Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin Menu
Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin Menu

From that menu click on settings and then configure the plugin options to suit your preferences, including setting the currency, entering your PayPal email address for accepting payments, and the other options.

If you want to test your website before setting it live, choosing sandbox from the PayPal Account Type dropdown menu will allow you to test the checkout process without actually billing your account.

choosing sandbox from the PayPal Account Type dropdown menu
Using sandbox for PayPal Account Type

When you are happy with the settings click on the Save Changes button and then you are ready to create your first auction listing. From the Add Auction tab you can then enter the details of the item you wish to list.

Creating the Auction Listing

With this plugin you get the opportunity to create a short description that will be displayed on the auctions listing page. It’s important to make this short description stand out and grab the attention of the browsers perusing the items on sale.

You also get the chance to enter a full description of the item, using the WordPress post editor and all its formatting options. This is your chance to really sell your listing. The Significant Objects project has shown that by creating a story for your product and its auction listing, it’s been possible to increase the value of an item by over 2,000%.

The plugin provides support for up to four images or videos to be added to the listing, with the ability to choose a thumbnail from the uploaded images that will be displayed on the listings page.

  • Image: auction-pricing-options
  • Then it’s just a case of setting the pricing options, including:
  • ·         Opening price
  • ·         Lowest price to accept/reserve price
  • ·         Bid increment amount
  • ·         Buy now price

and then setting the end date and payment method, before pressing the Saves Changes button to set the auction live.

Managing the Auctions

Any listings on your site can be viewed from the Manage Auctions tab on the plugin settings page.

Manage Auctions tab
Manage Auctions tab on the plugin settings page

From here you can check their status, see how many bids they’ve each received, and edit or end the auction. You can also filter the auctions by whether they are live or expired.

Managing the Auctions
Managing the Auctions

Publishing the Auctions

Once you’ve created at least one auction listing, you can then publish it on your website so that it’s visible to your visitors. The easiest way to do this is to create a new page in WordPress and then enter the shortcode:


Create a new auction page
Create a new auction page

Then, when you preview or publish that page, you will see a list of all the active auctions on your website.

Auction front-end view
A list of all the active auctions on your website

Visitors can then click through the individual listings to find out more, ask the seller a question by leaving a comment, send a private message to the seller, or place a bid or use the buy it now button.

individual listings
Individual listing for each auction

If a visitor tries to place a bid, they will be invited to login to the site. In order for them to be able to create an account, you will need to enable a setting which is found under Settings > General, with the title Membership: Anyone can register, making sure that the default role is set to Subscriber.

Membership setting
Membership setting

This will enable the register link on the login page, which will allow visitors to create their account and begin bidding on the items. If you want to change the appearance of the login and registration pages, to make them more integrated with the overall appearance of your website, you can use a free plugin such as Theme My Login.

While the features of the free version of the Ultimate WordPress Auction Plugin are somewhat limited, they do make it very easy to setup a functioning auction website using WordPress. If you need more advanced features, such as allowing visitors to list their own items, and charging them a fee for doing so, then the premium version and the add-ons can add these features and more to your site.

Hopefully you now have all the information you need to start listing items for sale on your WordPress website.


Now you should be ready to create your auction website using WordPress, or add the ability to sell items via an auction to an existing WordPress website.

While the premium auction themes include everything you need to build a fully functioning auction website, if you don’t want to go down the premium route or just want to add a simple listing to an existing website, there are a few suitable free plugins out there that can help you.

So whether you want to start a new website from scratch or just add a few items for sale to an existing website, there is a solution for you.

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As well as being a regular WordPress user, Joe writes for some of the most popular WordPress blogs, sharing what he's learned about this most versatile platform. If you would like to work with Joe to get content for your website, please visit his website for more information.