Bulk Listing On Ebay, Shopping Cart and Google Base
There are number of Ubuntu (Linux) users and “would be” sellers that might want to stay within Ubuntu and not have to also have a Windows machine to bulk list on Ebay, their own shopping cart or Google base. Although there may be many ways to do this, we wanted to introduce a way that we found that is working for us. This took us quite a bit of time and research and we hope this article helps others.
In short, you have to have the right software that can do the job all the way to completion. We wanted to stay completely open source where possible and not use proprietary file formats. All of the software and resource below are free with the exception of web site hosting. We also decided to use a professional Joomla template that was not free, although there are free templates available.
Here is the software we found to be the most helpful: (OS = Open Source)
- Ubuntu (OS)
- Open Office Spreadsheet (OS and available on-line or within Ubuntu)
- GIMP (OS and available on-line or within Ubuntu)
- Joomla (OS and available on-line)
- VirtueMart (OS and available on-line)
- CSV Improved (CC BY-ND)
- Gedit (OS and available within Ubuntu)
- Firefox (OS and available on-line or within Ubuntu)
This article does not go into the zillions of details that are involved in setting up web sites, ebay, shopping carts and the like. Instead this article simply points the way and lets “would be” sellers that want to use open source software know there is indeed “a way” and what that way is. Again, this is not to say this is the only way.
The key to this system is to create or move your listings into spreadsheet. This allows one to bulk upload (start, edit, update, end, etc) ones listings on Ebay, their shopping cart, Google Base and other venues. You will end up with one spreadsheet for Ebay, one for the shopping cart and CSV Improved will create a Google Base spreadsheet for you. The spreadsheets are each tailored specifically to the tasks they are to perform but the bulk of the information is the same for all of them.
Open Office Spreadsheet
In this article we are suggesting Open Office Spreadsheet as the tool of choice. There may be other editors that are just as nice but we know this one can do all the jobs that are needed.
There can be occasions along the way where you might need to edit in “plain text” and Gedit can help us with that. Gedit is similar to the Notepad you find in Windows yet is more powerful than Notepad. This tool can be useful for converting text or code or something you have copied onto the clipboard into plain text also. For example, you can just paste into Gedit, re-select what you pasted, and click copy – now (like magic) what is stored in the clipboard is in plain text, ready to paste into a spreadsheet or XHTML code.
This is a great tool for editing and resizing images for your listings or creating logos and such.
Joomla is a CMS tool for creating web sites and managing content. CMS stands for Content Management System. On a web site you have lots of content to manage in the form of articles, images, artwork and possibly sound and video.
Joomla sites need to be styled with a template and there are many templates available. Be careful not to download “free” (as in pirated) commercial templates as they tend to have viruses and other bugs. It takes a lot of effort to set all this up and the last thing you need is your site hacked. Some templates can style both Joomla and VirtueMart. We chose to use a professional RocketTheme Template
Web Site Hosting:
Some web sites hosts like Dreamhost offer “one click installs” of Joomla and easy database management so installation is super is easy. We also like that our site is Green by going with DreamHost.
VirtueMart is a component for Joomla that adds a shopping cart into Joomla. This is nice in that you are not dealing with a cart and separate web site for the sake of simplicity, management and styling.
CSV Improved is an import export component for VirtueMart so you can import, manage and export your listings. You can even export your listings as a XML file. How to export a ready made XML file for Google Base using CSVI VirtueMart? Within Joomla: Components > CSVI VirtueMart > Export > CSVI Google Base Export XML > Choose the settings you need or leave them at the defaults > Export.
Google Base is under going a name change to Google Merchant Services. When you upload your products to Google Base your products show up in the “shopping” tab (product search on Google) which is a free service offered by Google. Here is an example showing our product listings on Google: http://www.google.com/products?q=organic%20futon%20vitalbodies
Ebay tends to be very proprietary and can lead one down that path – to help avoid that fate you can use Ebay File Exchange rather than Turbo Lister which tends to only run on certain Operating Systems like Windows. If one learns Ebay File Exchange rather than Turbo Lister, they may only need to use Turbo Lister once to export their listings. That is if they have a lot of listings already on ebay, otherwise one really does not need Turbo Lister at all. If you do have listing on ebay you need to manage, you must get the ebay item numbers to match up to the title and description within the spread sheet in Open Office. At the time we needed to download our listings we did not know about open source jAOLT that can also do the task that Turbo Lister does. I have not tried jAOLT but it is well worth a look and frees you from needing a Windows machine to run Turbo Lister to get your spread sheet started.
Additionally, if you leave Turbo Lister behind and switch to Ebay File Exchange you are are much more ready to load your own web sites cart with your spreadsheet and add your products to Google Base. This frees you from Windows, IE, Wine and Turbo Lister at the very least. We were able to do just that, using Open Office, Ebay File Exchange, Joomla, VirtueMart, and CSV Improved and the other software listed here. Consider keeping the item titles at 55 characters or less so they are compatible with Ebay.
I mention Firefox because I know it works throughout the whole process. Epiphany is nice for double checking web pages as it uses the Webkit engine to display web pages and Webkit which can pass the acid3 test for CSS.
Additional Learning: Some of the learning curve took a considerable amount of time to figure out so I wrote a few blog posts to help others flatten that curve.
Using File Exchange And Turbo Lister With Ebay Listings In Ubuntu:
You have to know a few tricks to get Open Office to play nice:
All in all, there are forums for each of the programs or web sites and the details-upon-details involved go far beyond this article but I am happy to share that there is “a way” to make bulk listing happen and stay in Ubuntu and Linux.
Here is another graphic I created to help simplify what needs to be learned: