Sniping in soft-close online auctions: empirical evidence from overstock

  • Wen Cao
  • Qinyang Sha
  • Zhiyong YaoEmail author
  • Dingwei Gu
  • Xiang Shao


The existing studies suggest that sniping is an equilibrium strategy in hard-close online auctions, but not in soft-close ones. In this paper, we use a unique, large-scale data set from soft-close Overstock and hard-close eBay to document sniping phenomena under the two different closing rules. Estimation results show that sniping is prominent on both websites, but they are prevalent at different times. On eBay, sniping occurs right before the auction close, while on Overstock sniping happens predominantly in a short window of time before the triggering period, during which any additional high bid automatically extends the online auction. Furthermore, the revenue effect of sniping is significantly stronger on Overstock than on eBay.


Sniping Hard-close auctions Soft-close auctions Revenue effect 



We thank two anonymous referees and the editor for their highly constructive and valuable comments and suggestions. The authors contributed equally to this paper. The usual caveat applies.

Funding information

This research is supported by the China National Natural Science Foundation (71873036), HKU-Fudan IMBA joint research fund (JRF1718_0601), and Shanghai Pujiang Talent Program (13PJC009).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wen Cao
    • 1
  • Qinyang Sha
    • 2
  • Zhiyong Yao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dingwei Gu
    • 3
  • Xiang Shao
    • 1
  1. 1.School of ManagementFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Megaputer IntelligenceBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.School of EconomicsFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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