Wavebid software for inventory and marketing management

The biggest hurdle for auctioneers wanting to implement Internet bidding is inventory management. I’ve written before that even without Internet bidding, a well executed auction catalog with item pictures and descriptions is worth the labor cost to generate because of the enormous benefits to prospective bidders making the decision to come to an auction as well as the increase in search engine visibility for the auctioneer’s website.

Wavebid is a Web-based service designed to make the cataloging process faster and easier in order to make Internet auctions more available to the traditional auctioneer. Since launch, the company has expanded the service to include a marketing management component, focusing specifically on Internet marketing and tools for auctioneer branding. I spoke with Russ Hilk, founder of the Minnesota-based company, and got a guided tour of the product.

Auction dashboard

Simplicity and accessibility
Wavebid recognizes that working auctioneers want a product that is simple and easy to access. By designing their software as a web service, there is no software to install, it can be used on any computer connected to the internet and weekly updates and improvements occur automatically.

Auctioneers can configure up to three permission levels for user accounts, allowing employees different abilities within the software. Auctions can also be restricted on the user level, preventing auction employees from making unauthorized changes to specific auctions.

Item editor

Inventory
Inventory can be entered and edited in two ways. The standard lot builder is similar to item entry screens found in other auction software. A screen with multiple form elements for item attributes as well as an HTML editor for creating attractive descriptions.

In addition to the standard item editor, Wavebid includes a list view. This is a potentially powerful feature absent from the other inventory managements solutions I’ve seen. With Wavebid, a user can see the items in an inventory list and make changes to inventory direction from that list view. Being able to make these changes without bringing up the item editor provides the speed and efficiencies of a spreadsheet with the data validation of inventory management software. Keyboard shortcuts make navigation faster for users who don’t like to reach for the mouse.

Item listings that aren’t consistent look unprofessional. Wavebid includes about 350 templates that make listing common assets quick and consistent. Simply select that you want to sell a tractor and the description is populated with the attributes that allow you to fill in the year, make, model, engine, transmission, tires, hours and more. Wavebid will even get the actual specs for a vehicle from CarFax for a VIN.

For Internet bidding providers that allow HTML inventory, Wavebid offers some powerful enhancements to inventory listings. PDFs and video can be associated with items to augment the listings. Other optional widgets for each item include maps and shipping calculators for UPS or uShip.

Item tags and images
Wavebid will allow the user to print inventory tags using one of four standard label sizes. These tags are customizable and can include a logo, website, phone number or other text in addition to the barcode.

Up to 1000 pictures can be uploaded at a time. The pictures are resized with Adobe Flash to match the services selected by the user before they’re uploaded to reduce upload time. Wavebid will read the barcode of the inventory tag to automatically associate the picture with the item. Pictures can be ordered for each item by dragging and dropping while the integrated photo editor will allow the user to rotate, crop and balance each picture.

Data portability
Wavebid can import inventory from a spreadsheet for auctioneers who still wish to use Excel or Calc for data entry. Predefined exports exist for MaxaNet, BidSpotter and Proxibid; the user can manually configure custom exports for other services. On export, the inventory is saved in the appropriate format and the pictures are all resized and watermarked and saved with the inventory.

Auction calendar widget

Marketing
Wavebid’s marketing system aims to handle task management as well as generate marketing content that is difficult or arduous for auctioneers without a technical staff. A marketing matrix, complete with templates, helps ensure that campaigns are planned properly and completed. For regular auctions with standard marketing campaigns, deploying the Wavebid marketing tools is fast and easy.

Attributes on the data entry screens allow item-level marketing budgets, giving Wavebid the ability to generate a comprehensive marketing spend based on the sum of the budgets for individual items.

HTML email generation

Wavebid includes a widget to include an auction calendar on an auctioneer’s website. Upcoming as well as past auctions can be displayed on the auctioneer’s website using a simple piece of code that pulls the calendar automatically from the Wavebid servers. One-button exports of inventory to NAA and Global Auction Guide simplify syndication to third party listing sites. Wavebid can also automatically post items to Twitter or Facebook.

For auctioneers who send HTML emails, Wavebid will do the heavy lifting and generate the content based on the inventory. Its templates use the pictures and descriptions to generate markup that can be copied and pasted into Constant Contact, Bronto or other HTML marketing services.

Preview
Because Wavebid is Web-based, it can generate previews of inventory that look and feel similar to listings on common bidding platforms. This feature allows an auctioneer to provide the client with a password to access the listings to review them before the inventory is actually posted for bidding.

Mobile
Wavebid has apps for iOS and Android. These apps allow auctioneers to add photos to listings as well as update descriptions. Mobile inventory entry will never be as fast or efficient as entry on a real computer, but the ability to make small changes to an existing inventory from a phone or tablet is powerful. The app can also pull up pictures and description of an existing item to assist with auction preview and setup.

Conclusion
The product is very robust and continues to improve. Not only does it handle essentially every conceivable aspect of auction inventory creation and syndication, it’s the only commercially available product I’ve seen that connects the dots between inventory and marketing. For auctioneers who are looking for better inventory management as well as ways to automate marketing, Wavebid is a solid choice.

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Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES

twitter.com/traffas | aarontraffas.com | aarontraffasband.com

Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES is an auctioneer from Sharon, Kan. He is currently community evangelist for Purple Wave in Manhattan, Kan. Aaron serves on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Auctioneers Association and in the past has served on the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Board of Trustees. He is a past instructor at CAI and co-wrote the ATS designation course from NAA. During the summer, Aaron operates a farm in south central Kansas. Aaron is an active singer and songwriter and the Aaron Traffas Band's latest release, Dirt Red Sun, can be found at iTunes and Amazon.
  • Sarah Sonke – AuctionFirst

    Excellent – I’m going to check it out because I need something like this yesterday.  Thanks Aaron for bringing it to my attention

  • Dntiff

    I’m always leery of software & web services that don’t see fit to include their price, but want you to contact them first. It appears that they feel the need to convince you how valuable their product is before telling you how much it costs.

    • Russ

       Dntiff,

      I completely understand where you are coming from.  I feel the same way about many products offered online.  The reason we do not post the price is because it varies based on the client.   When I was an auctioneer, the commission rate we charged for a $1M/year client was very different than the rate for a $1k/year client.  We didn’t post our prices online because we didn’t want to scare the big guy or be unrealistic for the smaller ones.  Same idea here.  The largest single user on Wavebid will export over 1,500 auctions this year.  Our smallest user only 1 or 2.  Since we don’t charge a percent of sales they are paying very different rates.

      Thanks,
      -Russ Hilk
      Wavebid

    • Russ

       Dntiff,

      I completely understand where you are coming from.  I feel the same way about many products offered online.  The reason we do not post the price is because it varies based on the client.   When I was an auctioneer, the commission rate we charged for a $1M/year client was very different than the rate for a $1k/year client.  We didn’t post our prices online because we didn’t want to scare the big guy or be unrealistic for the smaller ones.  Same idea here.  The largest single user on Wavebid will export over 1,500 auctions this year.  Our smallest user only 1 or 2.  Since we don’t charge a percent of sales they are paying very different rates.

      Thanks,
      -Russ Hilk
      Wavebid