Auction Technology Blog

How to Quickly Create Auction Catalogs

superhero-534120_1920.jpgWhen it comes to auctions, time is always of the essence – auctioneers have a need for speed in all aspects of their business. This includes pre-auction preparations, when the auctioneer and their crew prepares, inventories, and photographs items for the auction catalog.

In the past, we have talked about making the cataloging process faster by using mobile cataloging tools and by creating pictures from videos. Today we will cover two other ways to speed up the lotting and tagging process: 1) Wait to set the sale order, and 2) catalog by picture.

Wait to Set the Sale Order

Auctioneers will typically order their auctions by lot number. For live onsite auctions, this makes a lot of sense. While setting up such a sale, the auctioneer and their staff will physically arrange the items in the most desirable order so that they can walk the crowd of bidders around during the sale. How the order is determined is largely up for debate, with some auctioneers insisting that the most valuable items be sold first while others suggest saving those items for the end in order to compel the bidders to stick around for the entire event. Regardless, the time and effort that goes into setting up items in the right order can be intense. Much of this can be avoided by selling online. There is typically little or no need to physically rearrange items for an online auction. Similarly, the sale order can be set independent of the lot numbers assigned to items, which allows the auctioneer and their staff to catalog the items in the field without even considering which items should be sold at which time. Instead they can focus on doing their job quickly and thoroughly.

Here’s a video demonstrating how simple it is to rearrange the sale order of an auction using AuctionMethod’s software for auction websites:

Setting the sale order from the comfort of an office chair is far preferable to having to move items around or jump around the auction location trying to get items placed in the right sale order. Here’s another way to speed up the cataloging process:

Catalog by Picture

Many auctioneers rightly believe that the purpose of photographing items is to create a highly marketable auction catalog. This is especially true when it comes to online marketing, where high-quality media content is king and bidders are relying on the auctioneer’s representation of the items being sold. However, the value of pictures is not limited to marketing. They can also save a tremendous amount of time in the field by reducing or eliminating the need to write comprehensive item descriptions. Not only is time in the field often limited by access, weather, and available labor, but the folks who are doing the setup work often do not have the expertise to properly describe the items being sold. Instead of relying on the setup crew to create the type of detailed descriptions that sell auction items, teach them to take better pictures. Doing so will allow qualified professionals to properly describe the items being sold without actually having to be present in the field for lotting and tagging. In this way, a picture can become worth more than a thousand words.

The photographer has two objectives when taking pictures of auction items:

  1. Create marketable photos. Start by taking the lead photo. This will be the first picture that your bidders will see, so it is important that it be well-composed. Follow this by taking many more pictures from ever possible angle.
  2. Document the details.  Take pictures of all identifying details, such as brands, logos, models, license plates, VIN and serial numbers, odometer/hour readings, all markings, measurements, closeups of critical components, along with any and all defects observed. The goal is to convey information, so it is more important to clearly focus on the details than trying to create a pretty picture. More is better. The very last photo should be a closeup picture of the lot number.

After meeting these objectives, the field workers upload their images to the website, where information from the pictures is transcribed and quality item descriptions can be created. Here’s a brief video demonstration:

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for saving time while setting up or managing your auctions. Leave your thoughts in the comments.