Proper auction cataloging provides structure, savings

Cataloging is only one of several steps an Auctioneer takes during the auction process, but as more firms take advantage of the Web to attract more bidders, it’s becoming an increasingly important one.

Cataloging serves many functions, says Kris Kennedy, customer service representative for Auction Flex in Ocala, Fla.

It allows you to create a list of items to sell so you can advertise on websites, fliers and other vehicles.

Providing bidders with catalogs on auction day enables them to plan out what they want to buy and when it’s up for sale.

And cataloging allows an Auctioneer to better structure the peaks and valleys of the auction — determining when to sell high-end items or when to take a break, for example.

Some Auctioneers catalog, while others do not.

If you’ve never experienced the cataloging process, you’ll find there’s a lot of work involved in writing and preparing the catalog, working with photos and matching the images with the descriptions, Kennedy says.

But not to worry. Myriad software programs are available to make the cataloging process a breeze — or at least a lot easier than doing it all by hand.

Carl Borning, president of Proven Software Inc., Manlius, N.Y., says he’s seen a shift away from Auctioneers printing expensive, color catalogs to posting them on the Web.

The company’s SOLD II auction management software includes a user-friendly cataloging operation for live auctions and Internet auction bidding, he says.

“With our software, we provide many different formats for catalogs that can print directly from our programs,” Borning says. “Just by running a simple program, you can actually update your catalog to our server and to your own Web pages without doing anything else.”

Auctioneers can make plain or fancy catalogs or anything in between, he adds.

“The auction industry is transitioning with technology attracting online bidders via live webcasters or auction simulcasts,” agrees Glenn White, strategic adviser for Lotting Solutions LLC, Boston.

The company created LotSmarter, a software solution for catalogers or lotters to automate the collection of asset data and pictures for auctions or appraisals.

Available to Auctioneers for monthly or annual subscriptions, LotSmarter data collection and automation software loads on laptop computers and features importing of data, wireless photo capture, speech recognition, reading barcodes from photos, and automated exports to any online auction service or auction clerking systems, White says.

Another innovation is the Eye-Fi card — a secure digital memory card that can be used with most cameras to transmit images to a computer in real time. The image automatically is attached to the lot you are working on in Auction Flex or other software, Kennedy says.

Auction Flex version 7.10 has a new capability called Catalog by Image that reverses the typical process of building a catalog, Kennedy says. Instead of entering lot descriptions and then taking pictures, one takes pictures and uses them to describe the lots.

“It allows you to import huge amounts of images and write the descriptions right then and there,” Kennedy says.

The more photos you provide, the better, White says, because photos give online bidders more confidence in what they are buying and can prompt higher bids.

When selling a dump truck, for example, include shots of the tires, engine, inside cab, odometer, bed condition and vehicle identification number as well as four to six exterior views.

“The major mistake people make is they want to put their descriptions into a word processing program or something less structured first,” Borning says.

Actually, you should do it in reverse, he says — put it in the most structured software to begin with.

“It’s easy to create unstructured data from a structured program, but the reverse can be difficult,” he says.

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Filed under Auction Industry, Auction marketing, Auctioneer magazine, Technology

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