GarageSale vs. iSale

There is a list of standard eBay auction categories from which you can choose here. One of these is GarageSale by iwascoding. The themes are quite attractive and will make your auction look better than 90% of the others on eBay (provided you can refrain from using a large variety of font sizes and colors, the “ransom note” look which seems to be all-too-common on the auction sites. The themes can be sorted by such categories as “clean,” “dark,” “dynamic,” and so on, but there is no search feature for the installed themes, so, if you know you saw one pertaining to, say, music, you must browse through the entire collection to find it.

Although the software is pretty well thought out, it does not exactly make the process of setting up an auction on eBay for the first few times particularly easy. The themes look pretty but none of them contain default text that could be useful for certain types of auctions or text that experts recommend you include in all auction descriptions, such as places for size, type, material and condition, nor suggested text for your store policy, etc.

The software comes with a large number of attractive templates, which it calls “Themes,” that are displayed in a browser panel at the top of the editing window in an interface reminiscent of iTunes’ Cover Flow view, and more can be purchased through an interface which is reminiscent of the Apple store interface in iTunes.

Another error I received was “condition must be set for this category,” even though I set the condition in two places in GarageSale. This can be rather complex. All in all, the software seems to show a preference for form over substance in its themes. For example, I tried to check “money order” as one of my payment options, only to find that eBay returned an error message and the auction was canceled. If you are not familiar with the eBay rules, you can still easily make mistakes. This software offers an attractive, Mac-like interface, plenty of themes to make your auctions prettier, and a free picture hosting service as part of the software.

Scheduling an auction is also far from intuitive; the scheduling interface would be easier to get a handle on if it bore more resemblance to iCal.

To post your auction on eBay, you click the Start Auction button and GarageSale will upload your auction to eBay.

The top of the auction window shows an information panel somewhat similar to item information at the top of all eBay auctions, except that you can edit the information there to suit the item being auctioned, or you can do so in the Inspector, if you prefer.

If you are selling several similar items simultaneously, you can offer to combine shipping to encourage people to bid on multiple items, but you won’t get much assistance from GarageSale in this, either.

There is no substitute for weighing the item you want to sell and figuring out shipping costs on your own. In addition, you can choose from the various auction enhancements that eBay offers. Shipping a 3-pound package via Priority Mail costs anywhere from $5 – $12 depending on the zone it’s going to. You can set the auction duration, starting bid, buy it now price, reserve price and payment and shipping options from this panel.

Calculating shipping is another issue. GarageSale will not figure this out for you.

To add an image, you can add items that are in iPhoto with the included media browser, which integrates directly with iPhoto. It is unlikely that a pretty theme, much as we may enjoy the look of it, will result in an item selling at a higher price.

You can set various sale options in GarageSale’s Inspector palette. What’s more, since GarageSale is a third-party “front end” to the eBay service, the exact text in any error messages may not come from eBay itself but from GarageSale, so that eBay’s own support system may not be able to help you with them.

The software occasionally updates itself with eBay, in order to download new categories and sync itself to changes in the policies and options of the eBay service, a nice feature.

The basics of GarageSale are quite simple. I’m not sure what the significance of this is, so I always do my editing in edit mode.

On the plus side, GarageSale has both e-mail support and an active discussion group. If you lapse into the ransom note look, all bets are off).

You can enter descriptive text for your auction in either preview or edit mode, although the program displays a warning that the “text formatting will have to be converted to HTML” if you try to edit in preview mode. You can also add items from the finder.

The themes have various “looks” such as sports, books, music, teddy bears, winter, and automobiles, as well as various color schemes. It took me some time before I figured out that the accepting of money orders is not allowed unless this is set up beforehand with eBay.

Selling items on auction sites such as eBay is a major part of the strategy of many Internet marketers, and there are a couple of third-party interfaces or front ends for eBay, the most popular auction site, aimed at making the process easier. There is Domestic Shipping, Local Pickup Only, Special Shipping Terms, Multiple Quantity Auctions, Calculated Shipping and International Shipping.

The bottom line: GarageSale has an attractive interface and some nice features, but it will not make the process of creating an auction on eBay much easier for the beginner.

One nice bonus of GarageSale is that it offers a free image hosting service so that you do not have to find a third-party service to host your auction images.. On the one hand, while this means that anybody can theoretically edit and improve the online help to make it more useful, I have found that the online help is currently not as complete as I might like. Because of this one omission, an auction I attempted was rejected. There is no contextual help in GarageSale.

A larger complaint about the themes is that they seem to be more show than substance. To create an auction, you first display the theme viewer at the top of the interface (this is somewhat hidden and unintuitive; you must pull the theme viewer down manually to display it) and choose a theme you like.

You can always modify themes and save them as your own templates for future use, but without the fancy Cover Flow browser. GarageSale help is available in the form of an online wiki, In an interface not unlike that of Wikipedia

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