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Using Ebay Auction Listing Services and Software

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eBay's default sell your item form is fairly customizable, but should you instead use a third-party listing service or program? Michael Miller explores your options in this sample chapter.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Practically every eBay seller starts out by using eBay's default sell your item form. As we discussed in the previous chapter, that form allows a good bit of listing customization, thanks to the Listing Designer feature, but it's certainly not the most robust way to create fancy-looking auction listings.

That's probably why so many third parties have entered the market for creating eBay auction listings, with a variety of listing creation services and software. Some of these services/software are freestanding, dedicated only to the creation of auction listings; some are part of a more comprehensive auction management package that also offers end-of-auction emails, checkout services, bulk feedback listing, and so on. Most of these sites and programs come with a fee, although a few are free to use. Almost all let you create listings that are somewhat more sophisticated than those you can create with eBay's Listing Designer.

Should you avail yourself of one of these third-party listing services or programs—and if so, which one? That's what this chapter is all about, so read on to become more informed.

Using Auction Listing Services

An auction listing service is, quite simply, a website that lets you create eBay auction listings from within your web browser. You create the listings, apply some sort of predesigned template (or perform your own custom formatting), and then have the service upload the listing to the eBay auction site. Depending on the service, your listings may be free; you may be charged a per-listing fee; or you may pay a flat monthly subscription charge. And, as part of the package offered by the site, you may have other auction management services available to you.

That's it in a nutshell—although the specific features offered will differ from site to site.

Why Pay for an Auction Listing Service?

If eBay lets you create basic auction listings for free (aside from the normal insertion fee, of course), why would you pay money to do the same thing at a different site?

That's a good question, with a few good answers.

First, remember that eBay listing creation is free only if you want a standard text-based listing. If you include more than one photo, you have to pay extra. And if you want to use the fancy Listing Designer background themes, you pay an extra dime for that service. So listing creation on eBay isn't always free.

Second, there's the matter of variety and flexibility. As you learned in Chapter 2, "Using Standard Text Formatting and eBay's Listing Designer," the themes that eBay offers aren't that spectacular, really. And there's only so much customization you can do; eBay's themes don't automatically create separate sections or formatting for different parts of your listing. So if you want a wider variety of better-looking predesigned templates, you have to look outside of eBay.

Which is why all these listing-creation services exist.

Popular Auction Listing Services

There are a number of sites that offer auction management services, and almost all of them include fancy listing creation as part of those services. In addition, there are a handful of sites that offers standalone listing-creation services, without all the other auction management stuff. We'll look at the major ones next.

Ándale

Ándale (www.andale.com) is a site that offers various services for eBay sellers. Chief among these tools is the Ándale Lister bulk listing creation tool.

Ándale Lister lets you create good-looking listings, working from a catalog of more than 100 professionally created listing templates. (Figure 3.1 shows a typical Ándale listing template.) You also get a built-in HTML editor, so you can customize the existing templates or create your own custom listings.

03fig01.jpg

Figure 3.1 A listing created with Ándale Lister.

You can create your listings in bulk and then upload them according to your designated timetable. You can even program a series of listings to launch on a regularly occurring schedule—or until your inventory runs out. Other listing features include a built-in spell checker, delayed launch scheduling, inline images (and an image hosting service), and pre-filled information for many item categories.

Like most of the other third-party listing creation tools, Ándale Lister isn't free; Table 3.1 details the tiered pricing schedule.

Table 3.1. Ándale Lister Fees

Monthly Fee

Listings Included

Each Additional Listing

$2.00

10

$0.50

$7.50

40

$0.30

$16.95

110

$0.20

$33.95

275

$0.18

$56.95

550

$0.15

$89.95

1,100

$0.12

$149.95

2,750

$0.10

$224.95

5,600

$0.08

Auction Hawk

Auction Hawk (www.auctionhawk.com) is a web-based auction listing/management service with quite affordable pricing. The site offers various tools in its main service, including built-in listing creation, image hosting, end-of-auction checkout with automated winning-bidder email, bulk feedback posting, and profit-and-loss reporting.

The site's primary listing-creation tool is the 1-Page Lister. As the name implies, it uses a single form-based page to create your eBay auction listings. More important, 1-Page Lister lets you use choose from over 2,000 pro-series templates (like the one shown in Figure 3.2), or use your own image backgrounds for your listings. You can also include up to 50 of your other listings in a scrolling cross-promotion gallery.

03fig02.jpg

Figure 3.2 A listing template created with Auction Hawk's 1-Page Lister.

Auction Hawk offers a five-level flat pricing scheme, as detailed in Table 3.2.

Table 3.2. Auction Hawk Fees

Level

Monthly Fee

Number of Listings Included

Basic

$12.99

110

Power

$21.99

250

Preferred

$29.99

550

Professional

$44.99

1,100

Unlimited

$89.99

Unlimited

Auctiva

Auctiva (www.auctiva.com) offers a variety of different auction listing/management services, all of which are completely free of charge. Free is good, which explains Auctiva's newfound popularity among eBay sellers.

Auctiva's One-Page Listing Tool (this one-page thing is a popular marketing angle, in case you haven't noticed) lets you choose from hundreds of predesigned templates, such as the one in Figure 3.3. The templates are pretty basic, similar to what you get with eBay's Listing Designer, but they cost 10 cents less than eBay's templates. (They're free, in case you forgot.)

03fig04.jpg

Figure 3.3 One of Auctiva's free predesigned auction templates.

ChannelAdvisor

ChannelAdvisor (www.channeladvisor.com) offers a variety of auction and retail management tools—most of which are targeted at larger online merchants. The service you want to look at is ChannelAdvisor Pro, which is actually HammerTap Manager in disguise. (We'll get to HammerTap next.) This service is a surprisingly easy-to-use collection of auction management tools, quite reasonably priced at a flat fee of just $29.95 per month.

With ChannelAdvisor Pro you can choose from a variety of predesigned templates or write your own HTML. You also get delayed scheduling, image hosting, and the other expected listing-creation features.

HammerTap

Next, we come to HammerTap (www.hammertap.com). HammerTap sells various auction management software and services, all offered with a la carte pricing. The tool you're interested in is HammerTap Manager, the kissing cousin of ChannelAdvisor Pro, which offers web-based listing creation. As noted in the ChannelAdvisor Pro discussion, HammerTap Manager offers both predesigned templates and do-it-yourself HTML listing creation. Pricing is on a tiered schedule, as shown in Table 3.3.

Table 3.3. HammerTap Manager Fees

Level

Monthly Fee

Number of Listings Included

Standard

$29.95

500

Gold

$54.95

1,000

Platinum

$99.95

2,000

inkFrog

inkFrog (www.inkfrog.com) is a cute name for some heavy-duty web-based auction management services. The one we're interested in is the i-Lister, which lets you create your own custom-built auction listings, based on a variety of predesigned templates. (Figure 3.4 shows a typical inkFrog auction template.) You also get bulk listing, delayed auction launching, free image hosting, and the i-Showcase cross-promotion tool. Various pricing plans are offered, starting at $7.95 per month.

03fig05.jpg

Figure 3.4 A listing template created with inkFrog's i-Lister.

SpareDollar

SpareDollar (www.sparedollar.com) is a top choice of frugal eBay sellers. This popular site offers a complete package of auction management services—including the sdLister bulk upload tool—for just $8.95 per month. No extra charges, just a flat $8.95, no matter how many listings you create. Not a bad deal!

The sdLister tool is a web-based editor complete with a variety of predesigned listing templates, like the one shown in Figure 3.5. You can schedule your listings to start hours, days, or even weeks in advance, and you even get the ability to relist unsold items in bulk. It's a pretty good deal—especially when you consider the other tools (auction tracking, image management, and so on) you get as part of the package.

03fig06.jpg

Figure 3.5 A listing template created with SpareDollar's sdLister.

Vendio

Vendio (www.vendio.com) claims to be the largest third-party supplier of services to eBay sellers, used by tens of thousands of sellers each month. The company offers the Sales Manager service, which is a powerful set of listing creation and auction management tools. You can use Sales Manager not only to create new item listings, but also to manage all of your current and post-auction activity.

You can actually choose from two versions of Sales Manager. Sales Manager Merchandising Edition is designed for sellers who sell a lot of unique items; Sales Manager Inventory Edition is designed for sellers who sell multiple quantities of similar items. Both versions let you create listings based on predesigned templates (and customized with your own HTML), such as the one in Figure 3.6.

03fig07.jpg

Figure 3.6 A listing template created with Vendio's Sales Manager service.

Whichever version you choose, the pricing is the same, using a combination of monthly fees, per-item listing fees, and per-item final value fees. It's all a little complicated, especially when you consider that Vendio offers both variable rate and flat rate plans. Table 3.4 details Vendio's current pricing.

Table 3.4. Vendio Sales Manager Fees

Plan

Monthly Fee

Listing Fee

Final Value Fee

Pay as You Go Plan

none ($2.95 monthly minimum)

$0.10

1%

Variable Rate Premium Plan

$12.95

$0.05

1%

Variable Rate Power Plan

$29.95

none

1.25%

Flat Rate Premium Plan

$12.95

$0.20

none

Flat Rate Power Plan

$39.95

$0.10

none

Annual Listing Plan

$250 (yearly)

$0.06

none

If you're interested in using Vendio primarily for its listing creation services, you probably want to sign up for one of the flat rate plans, which don't take a hunk out of your final sales price. Or, if you just want to check things out, perhaps the Pay as You Go Plan is the best way to go, as you don't have a hefty up-front monthly charge. I don't know; all these pricing variations are probably good, but they confuse me.

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