Whether you’re buying or selling, there are some great tools that help you make the most of online auctions.Ebay is an essential source for IT professionals looking for great-value computing kit. But whether buying or selling, you need the right tools to get the best value out of the deal.
If you’re selling items, the most important secret for success is presentation. A professional-looking listing will outsell an amateurish one every time. Ebay itself helpfully provides the freely downloadable and hugely useful Turbo Lister to create listings offline and upload items in bulk. An easy-to-use design editor helps you get to grips with text formatting and graphics layout, while essentials such as postage costs, payment methods and the ability to specify buyer requirements (blocking buyers from countries to which you don’t ship, for example) are all to hand.
If you’re buying items then sniping software allows you to hide your interest until the last possible moment, and then jump in with the lowest possible bid just before the auction closes. HammerSnipe PowerTool has two windows, so you can toggle between browsing Ebay without leaving the application and sniping via the AuctionStealer.com powered service. Shrinking to a small floating toolbar, it takes only a single click to set up a snipe from any auction page. You don’t need to be online for your bids to be made, and bids can be made with just ten seconds of the auction left to run (three seconds for premium subscribers). Plus, there’s email notification if someone outbids your maximum price before the auction ends, and you can even bid in groups, cancelling the remainder when the first item is successfully purchased.
Before you can bid for an item, you have to find it, and AuctionSleuth is a one of the more powerful search tools, with all kinds of filtering options built in. Whether you want to find only the Buy It Now items or those coming to the end of an auction, it will do the job. There’s even an automatic search function that finds items as they’re placed and alerts you. AuctionSleuth also offers a sniping function, although it relies on the application running and connecting to Ebay to place your bid rather than using the more reliable web-hosted service option. It also feels rather disjointed, with results popping up in a separate browser window rather than taking the all-in-one application window route that others do so well.
Another popular Ebay search tool, SearchGnome also suffers from multiwindow syndrome, but it does have one really neat trick up its sleeve: it searches for misspelt auction items, too. Enter the correct search term and it goes and looks for items that have been mistyped. These won’t show up in normal searches and therefore don’t attract the same amount of buyer attention. It’s a great way of unearthing a real bargain.
For the best search tool with unique features and a decent interface approach to proper integration, look no further than Munnin, which gets our recommendation this month. It’s as powerful an Ebay search application as anyone could want, with an ability to archive your search data offline, add watch folders, automatically synchronise data – it even comes with a shipping-costs calculator. But the unique selling point is the bargain-hunting mode. This can quickly track down items that have no bids in auctions coming to an end, or ones where the bids are below a pound, for example. You still have to watch for postage costs, and sniping activity can often spoil the fun, but serious bargain hunters will be hard-pressed to find a better-equipped tool.
Hammer Snipe PowerTool