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Cataloging: A Love/Hate Relationship

March 4th, 2011 9 comments

Nikon CameraLove/Hate
One of the challenges that auctioneer’s face is the necessary task that is cataloging. Cataloging can be slow, tedious, and time-consuming. Cataloging, however, is necessary for opening the auction floor to bidders that can’t physically attend the auction. Cataloging permits internet absentee bidding, internet live broadcasting, and internet-only (timed) auctions. It’s fair to say that auctioneers have a love/hate relationship with the cataloging process. There is no doubt though, that opening the auction floor to more bidders brings higher bids to the consignors and higher commissions to the auctioneer.

Slow is a No-Go
There are many different processes for building auction catalogs and taking lot photos. Different types of auctions (on-site estate auctions, gallery auctions, fine-art auctions, heavy equipment auctions, car auctions, etc.) will have different processes that work best for them. When and where lots get described and entered into the computer is subject to the workflow specific to your business. There is not a universal correct answer for the best way to catalog. All auctioneers, however, can agree that building a catalog with images can be a time-consuming affair and any improvement to this process goes a long ways towards saving labor and money. In this article I would like to discuss some common cataloging processes and the opportunities available for improving on them.

Typical Cataloging
The typical process for building an auction catalog involves 4 steps.

  • Step 1: Attach the lot label to the item.
  • Step 2: Enter and describe the lot on the computer.
  • Step 3: Take pictures of the lot(s).
  • (We typically do 20+ lots of Step1, 2, and 3 before proceeding with step 4)
  • Step 4: Attach the camera’s memory card to the computer and assign the pictures to the correct lots.

The biggest issue with this process is that attaching images after describing lots is inefficient. What if there was a way to attach the images in real-time? Keep reading.

Wireless Image Capture with an Eye-Fi Card
An Eye-Fi card is a special SD memory card with built-in WiFi that can be used with nearly any digital camera that accepts regular SD cards. Using an Eye-Fi card we can take pictures with our regular camera, however, instead of the image just sitting on the memory card, the images are wirelessly transmitted to your computer in real-time. The image then automatically gets attached to the lot that you are working on in Auction Flex. Removing an entire step (step 4) in the cataloging process is a big improvement and a huge time-saver. Read more about the Eye-Fi card here.

What if the process of describing and imaging lots in front of a computer isn’t a process that works for your company? Keep reading.

Reversi
In Auction Flex version 7.10 (released January 2011) we introduced a brand new capability called catalog by image. What we did was reverse the typical process of building a catalog. Instead of entering lot descriptions and then taking pictures, we actually take pictures and use them to describe the lots with. Here are the steps:

  • Step 1: Attach the preprinted lot label to the item.
  • Step 2: Take your first picture of the lot with the lot label visible. Now take more pictures of the lot from different angles ensuring you include pictures of specific details you want included in the description of the lot. If you want to include dimensions in your description simply include a ruler or tape measure in your photo.
  • (repeat steps 1 and 2 for as many lots as you like)
  • Step 3: Attach the camera’s memory card to the computer and open Auction Flex’s new Catalog by Image form. You then actually use the pictures to describe the lots. When there are multiple images of the same lot the Catalog by Image form intelligently allows you to add to the description of the previously entered lot.

This new catalog by image process is very efficient and can result in a huge reduction in the time it takes to build a catalog.  Click here to want to watch a video of the Catalog by Image process.

Time=Money
We recognize that there is no universal process that works best for every auction. Our goal is to give you the tools you need to work effectively and efficiently with whatever process works best for you. My personal preference for cataloging, however, is undoubtedly the new Catalog by Image feature. This is the way I would catalog whenever possible because it is uniquely efficient and encourages the user to take multiple images of each lot.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact us.


 

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