A subset of these online trading communities is the online auction, which provides an online, real-time exchange for commodities in a particular vertical or horizontal industry—office supplies, auto parts, chemicals—with prospective buyers and sellers logging on and making some type of low-price offer against a request. The buyer then makes an online purchase from the vendor who provides an offer that best meets his or her needs. Some sites provide essentially a commodity market, with sellers posting their goods and prices and buyers logging on looking for bargains. Others are initiated by buyers making their needs known, with suppliers responding—bidding against other suppliers in real-time—to make a best offer. These sites can involve ...

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