My search for the perfect online auction software was forced upon me
about three months into building my eBay business. Up until this point,
I'd been using eBay's free tool, TurboLister, combined with a ProStores
subscription. I would bulk-upload the products to ProStores and then
cross-list them on eBay using the built-in function.
realized that ProStores wasn't the best eCommerce solution for my
purposes. When I moved the store to another platform, I had to find a
new way to bulk-upload products because all my listings were created in
and stored in a spreadsheet.
thought that using TurboLister would continue to be the best online
auction software option, since they have a feature that allows you to
bulk-import from a .csv sheet. Unfortunately I couldn't make this work
- the import to TurboLister from .csv was broken. Thus my search began.
Over the course of a month, I took the "Free Trial" of 6 different
online auction software programs. Here's what I found out:
Creating your Online Auction Software wish list
and foremost, if you don't know what you want you'll end up paying for
more than you need. When choosing an online auction software program,
the varieties are vast and each one has it's own speciality features.
You need to know what ones are essential to you and which ones won't
ever get used. In order to even begin choosing which one you should
use, you will need to create a list of what you're looking for and
which features are most important vs. which ones you can compromise on.
Here's a list of somethings you might want to consider when making your
Which websites will you be listing on? Ebay, Half.com,
Overstock.com, Amazon.com, WeBidz, uBid, eBid, etc... If you're listing
on multiple sites, you'll want an online auction software program that
works with them all. Conversely, if you're only working with one,
you'll want a program that specializes in getting the most out of that
Do you need/want a listing designer? Some sellers rely
heavily on these, some (like me) almost never use them. If you do,
choosing an program that comes pre-loaded with listing designer
templates or whi
Where and how will you host your pictures?
This will be a major determining feature for most people. 1GB doesn't
go very far if you're doing 3+ pictures per item and want them to be
Do you need a bulk-edit feature?
Do you need to list multiple variations (sizes, colors, etc) of the same product?
How will you track/manage your sales
How many people need to have access to editing your listings?
will you edit and post your listings? If you're just using your home
computer, a local software program is fine, but if you're planning on
editing from lots of different places then an internet-based program is
How will you back-up your listings?
Do you need to sync with multiple accounts?
already was using Auctiva's free scrolling listing advertisement bar,
so I chose to try out this giant in the Online Auction Software
industry first. It didn't provide me with the bulk-upload feature that
I wanted, but I think that for small-volume or high-ticket-item sellers
it would be a great addition. Auctiva's photo hosting option and
pre-designed templates are professional looking and easy to use. What I
didn't like was the inability to do bulk uploads or bulk edits and
their pricing structure that was based on the number of listings. Also,
you have to do everything online (which has pluses and minuses).
they've changed their pricing structure (only one 'tiny' plan for folks
who don't list much such as casual sellers) and with the addition of
their Auctiva eCommerce store included this would have been a better
place to start than the ProStores/eBay combination that I tried. Also,
they've done a GREAT job of integrating product variations (such as
sizes) into their listing now that eBay is expanding this offering.
They're the leader in online auction software on this front. Plus,
their unlimited plans include Sellathon analytics tracking so you can
know who and how folks see your stuff. (note: if you have an eBay
store, you already get some Sellathon access).
customer service was very pleasant and responsive and didn't try to
hard-sell me when I canceled the trial (which reverts automatically to
their free level that gives you the scrolling cross-sell bar).
while I love the scrollbar (and since I'm not an eBay affiliate I don't
care if Auctiva's getting a commission from click-throughs) I didn't
find $20 per month worth of additional features. Much of Auctiva's
features are included (all be it on a less-pretty interface) with an
eBay store subscription. However, eBay stores aren't for everyone so
for non-store sellers, this could give you some good benefits.
Great For: Photo hosting, listing designs, cross-selling and listing variations Not For: Bulk uploading, Bulk edits to listings, large eBay stores (in my oppinion) Other Features: Inventory management, Auctiva Marketplace Store, personalized auction emails
so I'm not totally familiar with this because I use a PC. However, if
you work on a Mac, you need to be using GarageSale from what I've
heard. This is really the only contender out there in the Mac offline
market for online auction software. TurboLister, eBay's free program,
is only available for PC so this online auction software for Mac is
really the best option if you'd be using TurboLister otherwise.
played around a bit with this on my friend's MacBook Pro. It was a VERY
intuitive and beautiful (of course) interface. I hear they also have an
iPhone application, but I've not had a chance to play with that one.
They do have a bulk-upload feature and a bulk-edit feature.
it is just another reason I wish I had a Mac. But I'm not due for a new
computer till 2012. If I go with a Mac then, I'll do a full GarageSale
review at that point, you can count on it.
Great For: Mac users and folks who would otherwise use TurboLister Not For: PC users? Um, yeah...
almost went with Vendio - this online auction software choice drew me
like a bee to honey. Like Auctiva, they offer an online store and
marketplace. Unlike Auctiva, this functionality is their 'free' loss
leader item. Like ProStores, they allow for easy push-to-auction
functionality. Like desktop-based systems they also provide that
functionality for non-eBay systems. They do have the ability for
bulk-upload that I had been looking for.
Vendio has a free 60
day trial option, and it's a great way to start selling on multiple
platforms and get your store up and running if you've been thinking of
doing this. Unfortunately there's not a good 'preview' of what one of
their stores will look like before you sign up, but for 60 free days,
it's worth it. If you've NOT been thinking of doing this, you should be
- with eBay taking down the ability of you to submit your own feed to
shopping engines, you'll need an independent store to drive this
traffic to. Vendio doesn't have any fees associated with their stores,
so it's a great way to get started.
I have a love/hate feeling
with their add-ons. Most people won't need them, but all the good ones
cost money. If you want tracking, more images, etc. you'll need an
add-on. Personally, I prefer an all-inclusive solution if you're going
to pay for it, but if you like to order a la carte then this is perfect
I thought about using them for my store system and
listing system, however in the end I wanted to build an independent
store on my own domain and hosting for SEO purposes instead of using a
hosted store option. Since there is no way to use Vendio simply for
listing management, I opted against going with them - I didn't want my
store content to appear in two separate places on the web for SEO
Great For: Free Store, strong hosting, photo hosting, a la carte extension options Not For: Use simply as an auction lister without a store
for a more listing-centric online auction software program I gave
inkFrog it's 15 day trial. This is a very powerful listing system that
works VERY MUCH like Auctiva. I kept thinking that if I had been using
Auctiva but gotten frustrated with their editing of existing products,
then inkFrog would make sense. Their biggest draw is their Bulk Edit
feature, which allows you to search and edit all your stored inventory
and listings in one fail swoop.
I found their user interface a
little unwieldly to use, but that's mostly because I use Chrome for my
browser and it was having problems with their site. When I tried it on
Firefox I didn't have a problem. While their bulk edit and bulk import
from Auctiva features were great, I was shocked that they didn't have a
bulk upload from .csv option. This, combined with the Chrome problems,
is why I didn't end up going with them.
One thing I liked about
inkFrog's online auction software instead of Auctiva or Vendio was
their approach to the whole webstore thing. Instead of setting you up
with a whole store, inkFrog just gives you what they call a "Showcase."
This showcase drives their cross-sell platform on your eBay listings
(like Auctiva's scrolling bar) and gives you a place to drive traffic
to if you wish. However, they're not trying to be a store. I like this
because it gives you the easy option of having another store somewhere
else, or adding a link to your Showcase from your website. No separate
cart, separate orders, etc. to manage. Just a way to drive more traffic
to your listings.
inkFrog is clearly intended for eBay-centric
listers. This online auction software package doesn't link to other
listing services. However, what they do, they do very well.
Great For: Ebay sellers who list a lot of items, cheap image hosting, bulk edits Not For: Listing outside eBay, product feeds
I gave up on inkFrog because of it's lack of a bulk-import feature, I
decided to focus on desktop listing systems. These are online auction
software packages that reside on your local computer where you create
listings and then upload listings directly to eBay and other listing
sites. AuctionWizard2000 is the heavy-lifter in this field, don't let
their 1999-style website fool you, this is one feature-packed product.
can also be it's downfall. AuctionWizard2000 is great for companies and
businesses with an IT department (or computer-savvy staff) who can set
it up correctly so that everything integrates really well with all
you're doing. That said, once you've integrated you'll have shipping,
inventory management, FTP photo uploading and all sorts of
cross-platform accessibility. It can even generate a HTML site with
your products for you.
It's even comparatively cheap when you
hold it up against the online systems - only $100 a year for the
license (that's less than $9 per month) and then $50 each year after
that. However, the license is only good for one computer, so you'll
probably need multiples. You can, however, try it free for 60 days. By
then, you'll probably get it all figured out and be cruising along at
Overall, the whole time I was trying it out,
AuctionWizard just felt like overkill. It's the monster truck of Online
Auction Software. It was unwieldy to set up, and I'm quite proficient
with computer and networking things. There were many cool functions
that I just never got set up, and I un-installed it before my trial was
done. I might go back to it later though if I eventually add
cross-platform listings and need an online auction software that can
Great For: Auction-selling powerhouses. Folks who want to scale to huge proportions. Not For: Anyone who is intimidated by the "advanced set-up" tab of any other program.
So what did I eventually choose?
I went back. It's not surprising to me that the big boy in the online
auction world, eBay, makes a good piece of online auction software. I
just really liked the ease of use and integration with eBay that
TurboLister provided as well as the bulk-import feature. I hated it
when it didn't work. Which took FOREVER to fix. If you're having the
same problem, here's why I couldn't import a .csv file into my
TurboLister : you HAVE to use Microsoft Excel to create and modify your
file. If you use any other system (I tried OpenOffice and Google Docs)
it'll crash out or not work because of how those programs format their
.csv. It's a glitch that took a month of working with TL support to
figure out how to recreate. When we figured it out, they assured me
that they'll be working on fixing the glitch for one of the future
releases, but that I needed to use Excel if I wanted it to work
immediately. So I finally knuckled down and bought Office2007. I like
Office2007 and it's functionality for other things, so it wasn't a huge
investment although every other option I tried would have been cheaper
than this one solution.
So sometimes free isn't really free.
But I do really like TurboLister and I was familiar with it as I've
used it for listing products on and off for 5 years. If you're new to
auctions though, the lack of customer support (they have it, but it's
slow and hard to use) might be a huge deterrent for you.
Great For: Offline editing, bulk edits, syncing easily with eBay, ease of use Not For: Image hosting (use a URL instead), use with other auction sites, folks who need hand-holding customer support
Do you use an Online Auction Software program you love?
How do you list your Auctions? Do you use an Online Auction Software Program? If so, we want to hear about it!