What is a Bid?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

The bid is essentially an offer that is made for the acquisition of goods, services, or assets. The process of bidding takes place in a number of different settings, such as auctions and the stock market. The bid strategy can also be employed at yard sales and flea markets. Here are some examples of how bids work in different settings.

The bid strategy can be employed at flea markets.
The bid strategy can be employed at flea markets.

When it comes to auctions, a bid is the mechanism employed to offer a specific price for an auction item. In cases where there is an open auction, interested parties compete for acquisitions by means offering a higher bid than the offer that is currently on the table. Silent auctions often include the process of persons submitting a bid without knowing the amount of other offers. The highest received bid is the only one accepted and the auctioneer may or may not announce the amount of the winning bid. Other silent auctions allow bids to be placed on a listing for the item, which makes it possible for interested parties to see the current high bid and submit a higher offer. Online auction sites have become popular ways for persons to enjoy auctions from the comfort of home, and often prove to be an excellent means of acquiring products at bargain prices.

Online auction sites have become popular ways for people to bid at auctions from the comfort of home.
Online auction sites have become popular ways for people to bid at auctions from the comfort of home.

The stock market is an excellent example of how the bid process functions. Bids on stocks and securities help to drive the market. Investors often look for opportunities to acquire stocks that will ultimately prove to enhance the value of his or her financial portfolio. One key factor in stock market bidding is that the goal is not always to secure the asset at a bargain price. An investor may choose to extend a higher bid if the performance of the security over time is projected to be worth the cost associated with the acquisition.

Bids can be placed on animals during a livestock auction.
Bids can be placed on animals during a livestock auction.

Dickering at yard sales and flea markets is simply an expression of bidding. The casual atmosphere that usually prevails makes it very easy for people to submit a bid on any item that happened to catch the eye. Many sellers tend to expect browsers to make offers, and are often receptive to suggesting alternate amounts until an agreement is reached. Dickering is a great way to have a little fun at yard sales, and often results in securing all sorts of desired goods without spending a lot of money.

Dickering at flea markets is an expression of bidding.
Dickering at flea markets is an expression of bidding.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@shell4life – I deal with online bids, too, but mine are totally different from your husband's. I collect old video games, so I frequently visit online auction sites to see if anyone has rare ones up for sale.

I enjoy playing the old school kind, and as soon as newer game systems came into play, these were discontinued. Almost overnight, it became hard to find them. Video game stores put them in the clearance bin, and they disappeared faster than I could find them.

I have found several of my favorite childhood games on auction sites. I have gotten some for as little as $11, because no one else happened to be interested in them. I bid just above the asking price, and it worked for me.

Since no one bid higher than me by the time the auction was set to close, I got the video game. I knew better than to bid too high, because there is always a chance that no one else will bid.


My husband is the boss of a construction crew, and they frequently have to place bids on jobs to receive work. Whenever a big project is announced, the contractors will usually accept bids from crews, and often, they will accept the lowest bid. However, if one company has a better reputation for quality than another, this comes into play, too.

My husband finds a lot of his work online. The auctions usually occur on the internet, so he has to check the sites frequently to see if anyone has submitted a lower bid than his.

Before accepting his bid, the contractor will set up a meeting with him. If they are satisfied with what he has to say, then they will accept the bid and hire him.


I donated a piece of artwork to the local Humane Society for their annual art auction. The proceeds were going to benefit the animals at the shelter.

They were accepting bids on all the artwork at the event. They asked me how much I thought mine was worth, and since it was a pet portrait, I told them that I normally got $50 for commissioned work like this. So, they set the starting price at $50.

Only one person bid on my art, so they got to take it home. She bid exactly $50, so she got it at the usual price, though she probably didn't know this.


Dickering at flea markets is good, and sometimes, you can do this with a car salesman to get a good price. However, there are some situations in which no amount of dickering will get you a lower price.

I know that car salesmen are used to dealing with bids from customers, so it didn't totally surprise me when one tried to get me to lower the price of advertising. I work as a sales rep for a newspaper, and our prices are set in stone. However, he thought that every price should be up for debate, and I felt like I was at a pawn shop!

He got upset when I told him that the prices were final. He needs to learn that bidding and dickering are not always the accepted form of business transaction!

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