Wednesday, April 7, 2021

SELLERS' SPOT: An App That Should Be More Well-Known Among Small- to Medium-Scale Sellers: An In-Depth Review of Classadlister (App)

NOTE: This review was originally posted on a separate blog I had a couple of years back, which has since folded. It is being reposted here, as part of a small series on third-party marketplaces, as many readers may sell items themselves, or be interested in starting. And what could be more budget-minded than earning some extra money?!

Also, this app was reviewed on our radio show! If you'd rather listen to me ramble on about it in audio form, rather than read my ramblings via text, click here.
Classadlister Logo
Unfairly ignored.


DISCLAIMER: Based on my love for this app, which I stumbled upon on my own, I did reach out to the developer, and briefly assisted with creating the Classadlister support forums (since defunct) about two years ago; I was neither paid nor reimbursed in any way for my time nor was I ever asked to write a review for it. In fact, the developer was never aware of this blog, or that I even posted it at all.

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Since I only sell part-time, I initially figured that I didn’t need to invest in anything to help me post and manage my inventory. After all, I tended to only get a handful of items every month, or so, and never saw a point to streamlining any of that. For a little while, when I was only posting to one or two different sites, that theory held up fairly well.

Then I started to expand my reach to as many marketplaces as I could handle, and that’s when the reality of my situation started to set in: I needed help. Posting the same things over and over, manually to multiple sites, might not have felt all that time consuming as I was doing it, but it certainly wasn’t the most efficient way to go about things. So after looking into many multi-channel selling tools, most of them geared toward large businesses and carrying a hefty monthly fee, I finally found what I hoped would be a diamond in the rough: Classadlister.

There wasn't much out there on this app, aside from a couple video reviews and online tutorials—to be honest, I don’t even remember what search string lead me to it on Google—but my thinking was that if it even delivered half of what it promised, it would be a pretty useful tool to help save me some time.

As I alluded to before, Classadlister is a multi-channel listing tool, which means that it helps you to list your items to several online marketplaces. There are no shortage of such programs out there, but there are a couple things that set it apart from the competition: 1.) It’s entirely a mobile-based app (with support for Android only; sorry Apple users), and 2.) It is one of the few such programs that “integrates” with eCrater which, despite its rather negative connotation in the selling community, somehow continues to be my favorite third-party marketplace.

NAVIGATION/APPEARANCE

The main screen. Oof, that's an eyesore.

This isn’t the prettiest app to look at, by far. For starters, the color scheme is pretty atrocious and uninviting. Navigational choices are offered at the top of the app, in the form of icons that can be rather confusing to those that aren’t familiar with it. A three button navigational button in the top right offers some miscellaneous options, such as the ability to use an external scanner, watch a quick-start video, check for updates, or offers support via a message forum. It’s all a one-man show, and it shows.

But as the annoyingly clich├ęd adage states: “You should never judge a book by its cover,” and this is one of those instances where doing so can be a grave mistake: the functionality is through the roof, a welcome trade-off for a more polished, appealing design. I’ve had this app for over two years now, and it’s the only one I truly swear by, frequently managing my workload around the features of this app.

Navigation can be a little cumbersome at first—it could probably benefit from a main menu of some sort to help organize things—but overall it’s a pretty serviceable setup as-is, and becomes even easier (and more sensical) once you get into the swing of using it.

EASE OF USE



Here’s where the app will technically take some dings, but it’s not necessarily its fault: as with most fully-featured programs, this one is going to take some getting used to. And that’s probably the biggest problem stunting its growth: No one that sells full-time, and who probably already has a selling plan in place, is going to take time away from selling to learn a completely new product from the ground up. I’d say it took me about a solid week before I felt like I had gotten the hang of it enough to comfortably use it, and even though I’ve been using it for over six months now, there are no doubt features and tricks that I’m still using wrong, or not using at all. It’s really a feature-rich app, but with all of those features comes a learning curve that will no doubt be a turn-off to many.

However, there are at least some signs that the app may become more "user friendly": When I first started using it, the most helpful reference was a 50+-minute tutorial video that pretty much just showed you the basics; thankfully, the developer has since simplified the process by shortening it into a 15-minute “quick start” video that should have you up and running in…well…fifteen minutes. They also now have support forums, too, which give the same info as above, along with granting users the ability to ask specific questions. (The forums have since been taken down, with a single 32-page Google Doc document explaining how to set it up replacing it. The app has also been removed from Google Play, and is only available via APK. More on this later.)

Arguably, the most difficult aspect of the app is the one-time setup of eBay API, which just might be the single biggest requirement to getting the most out of the program. Once you get this set up, you will be able to pull information from existing eBay listings, to your own product page, saving you loads of time from having to manually input everything yourself. Setup took me around half an hour, and a few tries, to get everything in working order; those that are familiar with setting these up should be up and running in under ten minutes. Even if you have no technical experience, as long as you can carefully follow instructions, you should be able to do it yourself with little problem.

Once you set up eBay's API, you'll be able to auto-fill results from that site.

There is also an option to set up Amazon MWS, which I would imagine would be very similar to the eBay process; this would allow you to get Amazon search results based on the UPC. If you sell a lot of Amazon items, or sell directly on Amazon, this would be a great feature; however, note that you must be registered as a professional seller on Amazon to use it, which costs $40/month. Since I have no interest in selling there, especially for such an expensive charge, I just go without.

I definitely wouldn’t call it “easy” at first, but like anything else, the more and more you work with it, the more the listing steps become second nature, and the more rewarding it becomes.

FEATURES

Classadlister is certainly feature-rich, to the point that I still continue to learn new things from time-to-time. It’s obvious that it was created by someone who sells himself, because it touches on many different aspects of the selling process. There is no way I could possibly explain everything it can do in a single post, but these are some of the features that I would consider to be most important; obviously, this is subjective, and your opinions may vary.

Just a sampling of the supported sites, which covers almost all the major players.

The app supports posting to sixteen (as of this writing) different sites. This is the way it works, and it works differently than some: You create a product in the Classadlister app, complete with all pertinent information such as product photos, description, weight and dimensions, as well as Google Shopping traits (GTIN, MPN, and Brand). From there, you select where you want to post the item to, the app takes you to that site, autofills in all the fields based on your input, and voila! Listed item! Now, the site does not autolist items—you may have to manually go to the “add product” page of some sites, select categories, and press the “list” button when everything is done—but it does a great job of automating much of the process. (Besides, apps that autopost things are frequently frowned upon and weeded out by online marketplaces, as it can allow scammers to flood them with fake listings.)

For example, the in-camera barcode scanner pulls results from eBay, Amazon, eBid, and Semantics3 (if available), and can autofill the title, description, price, UPC, and MPN. Now, in my experience, the description just auto-defaults into repeating the title, but there are also in-app links to Google Shopping results, which makes it real easy to copy and paste manufacturer descriptions and grab stock photos, if that’s your thing. You can even add site-specific header and footer text, which appears at the top or bottom (respectively) of all posts added to that particular site—and you can have separate header and footer text for each site you sell on.

If you're forced to make a listing from scratch, it's a pretty quick, painless process.

Each item also has a “Listing Journal” at the bottom, which shows you where and when your items were listed (through the app; it can't detect postings made elsewhere), and for how much. This automatically gets updated every time you list something (or, at least, it should; I have noticed it misses some listings occasionally), but can also be manually updated. Obviously, this can help you see where it's been posted, but its usefulness goes beyond listing. Once you sell something, for example, you can list it as “Sold” in the journal, and add the tracking number under the “Value” field. Now you have a mobile record of the tracking number for that product, should any future issues arise. It's a really nice touch that shows you the care and attention that went into creating it.

On the issue of “security” is another area where Classadlister will either succeed or falter, depending on how strict you are in guarding your personal info: Working in its favor, you never have to log in to the app—all of your information is stored on a database file located directly on your device. That means your files aren’t floating around in a cloud somewhere, or stored where other people have access to them—they are on your device only. The flipside to this, is that all your login info is automatically stored in Classadlister (assuming you added it in the “settings” section during your initial setup; it’s what allows the app to autofill login info to save time), so if your device gets lost or stolen, people could, in theory, be able to use the app to auto log-in to your selling sites, or figure out your passwords by finding the “Settings” folder.

One thing I failed to mention: There are a shit-ton of reports and tasks that can be run to help keep you organized.

There are a myriad of other features and benefits that would take too long for me to explain, but needless to say this app covers a lot of ground for the small-to-mid-size seller. Just remember that it is first and foremost a multi-channel listing app, as it alludes to in the title, so don’t go in expecting it to be your all-in-one business solution. And if you only sell in one marketplace, especially if it's one of the hugely popular ones (i.e. eBay and/or Amazon) it won’t save you as much time as an integrated business solution would.

FEES/PRICING

It seems that the fee structure for using the app has changed a few times since its initial release in 2014, and thus is subject to change at any point in the future, but as of this writing, it will only set you back a mere $2.99/month for the full app the fees are on a donation basis. That's right, you basically decide what (if anything) you want to pay. There used to be a footer that ran along the bottom for unpaid members (something along the lines of “This product was posted using Classadlister. Download it yourself!”), but now you get the entire program, completely for free. Obviously, if you get some good use out of it, I'd strongly suggest making a donation, as it's a one-man show, and that would help encourage further support and updates.

This has nothing to do with pricing, but you can even add custom fields for notes to yourself.

Even at the original $3/month price, it was a steal. Multi-channel selling tools are oddly rather hard-to-find, and if you do manage to find one, they are often geared toward large-scale sellers with a hefty monthly fee. It's a shame (and also rather confounding) that it hasn't caught on at all at some point through the years, because it's a wonderful program that covers more bases than it appears to at first glance.

SUPPORT

The support forum.

(UPDATE: The forums have since been taken down, and an email question I sent the developer about the app's current status went unanswered after 24 hours. Thus, I am unable to say whether or not there are plans for him to maintain it. At any rate, as of this writing, the app works as it should across all major platforms...well, at least the three I use.)

This is the department where the app really shines, because the support is second-to-none. Seriously, this guy goes above and beyond the call of duty…sometimes to an annoying degree. Got a marketplace request? He will do whatever he can to add it to the app. Have a feature idea? Suggest it to him, and if he likes it, he will work hard to implement it in a future update. As he has told me in the past, he hates to lose a customer, and will do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Responses to technical questions are answered quickly, and though I believe the verbiage touting the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber makes it sound like paying members get priority responses, I always received an answer to questions within the hour, even before I started paying the subscription cost. Seriously, if there’s such a thing as “too much support”, this developer would be guilty of that.

As for app updates, they were offered on an almost daily basis when I started using it back in June, 2018, but their frequency seem to come and go in phases. After all, he is a guy with a family and full-time job, so this is something he works on only as time permits. That makes it very understandable, then, that there weren’t many changes during the fourth quarter, a time when the holidays like to consume everyone’s time; there have already been a couple updates since February, as well as the implementation of a brand new retail arbitrage feature geared toward eBay and Amazon sellers (it requires an Amazon seller account, so I won't be test driving it at any point in the near future.)
While it's unfortunate the app isn't more popular than it is, at least this means the developer has more time to answer user questions!

There is also a support forum that has recently been implemented to handle requests/questions. I haven’t used it to see how quickly responses are handled, but I’d imagine it would be pretty quick. And if that doesn’t work, you always have email as a fallback option.

OVERALL

PROS (+)

+Great mobile multi-channel listing solution (one of the only ones that I know of).
+Free version is full version (though it does include ads and a footer at the end of all free listings)
+Great value at just $2.99/month. (Has since gone to a donation-based model)
+Listing support for a growing number of online marketplaces
+Phenomenal email support from developer.
+No sign-ins to remember or accounts to create.

NEUTRAL (+/-)
*Can be used on PC using an Android emulator (such as Bluestacks)
*No Bonanza or OfferUp support (which isn't the developer's fault; it's the way those systems are set up)

CONS (-)

-Android only
-Learning curve that won’t appeal to more established sellers
-Ugly interface
-Some information must still be manually selected/filled in on listing site (such as categories)
-None of the supported sites are “official” partners, so system changes can create unforeseen compatibility issues with this app.
-The no-password login can be a potential security issue.

A search function helps you find products fast.

I could ramble on and on about this app for even longer than I already have--there are a myriad of other features and benefits that would take too long for me to explain and expand upon--but needless to say this app covers a lot of ground for the small-to-mid-size seller, and is a great listing tool for beginners who are looking for an efficient way to list product and maintain inventory.

There are many cons, the main one being the amount of time it takes to properly learn it, but once it's learned, it's a very rewarding tool that definitely deserves more attention than it has gotten. And with excellent, receptive developer support, you just may see one of your suggestions featured in a future update. What major app can you say that about?

RATING: 7.5/10. (No change. Still a great app, but with now-questionable developer support, it makes it a hard recommendation.)

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