Hack 73 Streamlining Listings


Use eBay Turbo Lister to upload more listings in less time.

The Sell Your Item form introduced in Chapter 4 is a simple but limited auction listing tool, adequate only for creating a few new listings at a time. It's hopelessly cumbersome for anyone needing to upload a large number of listings or otherwise automate the listing process.

eBay's own Turbo Lister application is what they call a "bulk listing tool," but in many ways it is simply a more convenient way to create eBay auctions. Turbo Lister, available at pages.ebay.com/turbo_lister, is completely free to download and use, and operates on any Windows machine (Mac and Unix are not supported).

Although Turbo Lister provides all the same listing options available at www.eBay.com, it sometimes takes a little while (often a few weeks) for eBay to update the software with new features and categories. To make sure Turbo Lister is always up to date, go to Tools Options Advanced Options, and turn on the "Automatically download updates when I start the program" option.

7.3.1 Setting Up Turbo Lister

One of Turbo Lister's biggest strengths is that it effectively eliminates the need to enter the same information again and again. Before you use Turbo Lister, take a moment to specify default values by going to Tools Options, as shown in Figure 7-1.

Figure 7-1. Use Turbo Lister's Options & Preferences box to set the defaults for your auctions

The more auction details you specify here, the less work you'll have to do for each listing. For instance, select Auction Defaults Listing to create an auction description template to be used for all newly created items.

7.3.2 Creating Listings

Ironically, Turbo Lister's listing creation tool starts with a multipage wizard, not unlike eBay's Sell Your Item form. The good news, however, is that you have to use it only once.

Start by clicking the Create New button on the toolbar (or go to File New Item) and follow the prompts. If you like, you can fill in all the fields as though you were selling a single item, or just click Next repeatedly to get through the wizard and click Save when you're done. Your new listing will then appear under the Item Inventory tab, awaiting upload.

But the best part is where you can go from here. Instead of going through the wizard each time you want to create a new listing, you can simply duplicate an existing item and modify it as needed. Click the Duplicate button on the toolbar (or go to Edit Duplicate), specify the number of duplicates to create, and click OK. This makes it remarkably easy to create dozens or even hundreds of similar listings in a fraction of the time it would take without Turbo Lister. Then, double-click any entry to show the Edit Item - Auction Details window, shown in Figure 7-2.

Figure 7-2. The Edit Item - Auction Details window, available only after you've created a listing, allows you to modify all aspects of a listing on one page

A few things to note about this window:

  • You can specify the category (or categories) in any of three ways. Click Find to browse the entire category tree. Or, type a category number right in the Category and 2nd Category boxes, and press the Tab key to validate it. Finally, choose among your most recently used categories from the drop-down listbox.

  • Click Design View in the Edit Item - Auction Details window to modify the auction description with the WYSIWYG editor. Flip to the HTML View and Preview tabs to edit the HTML directly and see what your auction will look like, respectively.

  • Click Add/Manage Photos to specify one or more pictures for the item. Just like eBay's Sell Your Item form, you can either host the photos on your own server [Hack #59]) or use eBay's Picture Services. To switch between the two options, click "Change photo hosting" under Other Tasks.

  • Click Create Another to duplicate the current item without having to return to the previous window.

7.3.3 Uploading Listings

New listings are added to the Item Inventory list as you create them, but they won't be sent to eBay until you're ready upload them. To do this, select one or more items in the list and click Upload. Turbo Lister will then queue the selected items by copying (not moving) them to the Listings Waiting to Upload tab. Finally, click the Upload All button on the toolbar when you want them to "go live."

Since auctions end at the same time of day they start, give some thought to when you upload them. After all, if an auction ends in the middle of the night, you will have far fewer last-minute bidders. So even if you construct your auctions at 2 A.M., you may want to upload them during your lunch break the next day. For an extra fee, you can also upload your listings now and schedule them to start up to two weeks from now.

You can also select individual items and click Upload to send them to eBay in batches, each separated by only a few minutes. By staggering your listings in this way, you'll facilitate further bidding by last-minute bidders who may want to purchase more than one item from you.

Another strength of Turbo Lister is that it maintains a non-expiring archive of every auction you've ever created with it. This allows you to upload the same item several or even hundreds of times. It can also be very helpful to have access to old listings; I sometimes reuse descriptions for similar items I've sold in the past, which can be a great time saver.

7.3.4 Using Folders

Use folders to organize your items. If you don't see the folder list on the left, click the Show Folders button on the toolbar.

Go to File New Folder, and then drag-and-drop one or more items into the new folder. Since Turbo Lister doesn't differentiate between items that have been uploaded and those that haven't, you might want to create an "Uploaded" folder and a "Pending" folder for precisely that purpose.

7.3.5 Seller's Assistant Pro

Once an item has been uploaded to eBay, Turbo Lister's role in that auction ends. There are plenty of tools you can use to conduct any post-auction tasks, but you may instead wish to use an integrated tool that follows the progress of an auction from conception to completion.

One such alternative is eBay Seller's Assistant Pro (pages.ebay.com/sellers_assistant/pro.html), shown in Figure 7-3, which is available for a monthly fee. Although its interface is somewhat more crude than Turbo Lister, it provides much more complete auction management.

Figure 7-3. eBay Seller's Assistant Pro combines auction creation with post-auction management tools

Essentially, Seller's Assistant Pro combines Turbo Lister with the auction-tracking spreadsheet discussed in [Hack #65], and adds some of the post-auction automation discussed in [Hack #75] and [Hack #74].

7.3.6 See Also

Turbo Lister uses the eBay API to upload new listings. To build your own auction listing tool, see [Hack #88]. See Chapter 8 for details on the eBay API.

Also available at extra cost is Vendio Sales Manager (www.vendio.com), which comes with its own listing designer, inventory management, and image hosting services. One nice perk is that it will schedule eBay listings at no extra charge.

Before Turbo Lister, there was Mister Lister. Although it's now defunct, this non-API predecessor was quite popular. If you've used Mister Lister in the past, you can import your old Mister Lister collections into Turbo Lister by going to File Import Items From Mister Lister. However, note that any collections created with a version of Mister Lister released before May 2001 will not be readable by Turbo Lister.