Sharp Auction Engine V. 1.0 introduces a variety of new features and fixes to improve overall site performance.
This was a very special milestone for Sharp Auction Engine; we held our first online auction event, and it was a success! We found the entire process to be very enlightening, and we feel that we are now more prepared than ever.
While there were many new features and enhancements implemented for V. 1.0, our primary focus was implementing improvements based on the user feedback that we received from our first online auction. You asked for it, and we delivered! We think you’ll be happy to hear about the many changes that we have made for this release, and we can’t wait for you to see them in action in our next online auction!
Let’s take a look at what’s new!
Sharp Auction Engine was built with bidders in mind. We want bidding to be as easy and as fun as possible! That’s why we were happy to receive feedback on our bid logic and modals. For V. 1.0, we’ve enhanced our bid modals to now make it more clear that users should place a regular bid or a max bid.
With the start of our first online auction, we quickly realized how important our Support Portal is to our users. While we were very happy with how our support services worked, we saw an opportunity to improve upon this important resource.
We’re very excited to announce that we have now successfully integrated our Support Portal user accounts with our SAE user accounts. That means whenever a user creates a Sharp Auction Engine user account, he or she automatically gains access to all of the solutions available within the Support Portal, including helpful How To articles and Frequently Asked Questions.
Speaking of these solutions, we have added many new How To articles and Frequently Asked Questions to accompany this new release, including “How To View All Current Bids” and “How To Set Up Invoices.”
Our support isn’t limited to just the portal, though. We have also added help text to other areas. For example, whenever a user is using an unsupported browser (such as outdated versions of Internet Explorer), he or she will receive an alert at the top of the screen that includes links to update the browser. Also, auctioneers will now have a link on the Catalog and Item Managers to view more information about bid increments.
Email, Messages & Notifications
One of the areas where we received the most feedback was in regard to email. We want to make sure that our users are always informed of important activities, so we previously developed of a series of emails that are sent out to users when certain activities occur. Based on the feedback that we received from our first auction, we have refined our email system by making several improvements.
We currently send an email to users whenever they receive new messages, but we have enhanced this email to now display the full message text in the email. This eliminates the need for the user to log in to the site to check the message. Furthermore, if the user wishes to reply to the message, there is a “Reply” button within the email.
In addition to that enhancement, we created and implemented three new emails that users will now receive. The first is an email sent to bidders when they have been outbid. The second is an email sent to auctioneers when they receive a payment, and the third is an email sent to a bidder when an auctioneer logs a cash or check payment on his or her invoice.
The last thing we want to do is clutter your inbox with unnecessary emails. With that being said, we didn’t just add emails; we also removed emails. We found that by displaying the full message text in the email that users receive when they receive new messages, we no longer needed to send some of our other emails. This ensures that each email that you receive from Sharp Auction Engine is worth your time.
We also made changes to our email system to better work with our multi-instancing sites. As you know, Sharp Auction Engine is a tool that allows auctioneers to conduct timed online auctions right from their own web sites. This means that Sharp Auction Engine ends up working on many different sites and urls. We had to make sure that the links provided in our emails always direct people the correct instance of SAE. With some programming magic, we were able to successfully configure our email links to go to the site where the trigger occurred. What does this mean for you? It simply means you’ll never have to worry about being linked to the wrong location.
In addition to configuring our links, we also made other changes to our emails to better work with our multi-instancing sites. We updated the emails to now say they are from “Auction Support” instead of “Sharp Auction Engine,” and we minimized SAE branding on our emails so they can better serve our many auctioneer partners.
Many of the changes that we made to emails were mirrored in the changes that we made to our messages and notifications. We configured the links in both to better work with our multi-instancing sites, and we created new payment notifications. Now, for example, an auctioneer will receive a new notification whenever a new payment has been received. Auctioneers can also look forward to receiving a notification whenever a user places a bid on one of their items, allowing auctioneers to better monitor real-time bid activity.
Once an auction has ended, auctioneers must process the items by declaring winners. The Manage Winners page serves as a helpful central location for declaring winners. From our first auction, we received some feedback on how we could enhance this page to make it easier for auctioneers to declare winners.
First, we have added bulk actions to this page. Auctioneers can now declare winners for multiple items at once, making the process much more time efficient. Second, we have added a visual to let auctioneers know when the reserve has not been met. This allows auctioneers to make a more informed decision when declaring a winner for items whose bids did not meet the reserve. Third, we have added more options for filtering and sorting items on the Manage Winners page. Auctioneers can now filter items to show all “Declared” and/or “Not Declared” items. This is helpful for auctioneers who have many items in their catalog. Auctioneers can also sort the items by “Bid Count” to see which items received the most and least bids. Finally, each item name now links to that item’s Item Detail page, making it easier for auctioneers to navigate from page to page.
The Item Manager is the page where auctioneers can view and edit their items. It is a centralized location for an auctioneer to fully manage all aspects of the item. We have enhanced this page to now include carets (navigation arrows) that easily allow auctioneers to move from one item to the next. We have also added a Manage Winners module in the second column for closed items. This provides even more information to the auctioneer on this page, but it also gives him or her the ability to declare a winner right from this page. Now, auctioneers can declare winners from the Manage Winners page or they can do it from the Item Manager, using the carets to move on to the next item.
Security is always a top priority for us; we worry about it so you don’t have to! For this release, we made many changes to improve our security. First, we updated our security license for our sales site, and we implemented a procedure for ensuring that our multi-instancing are also secure. The most important change, however, is that we moved to a better performing and more stable and secure server.
With all of these changes, we now have an ‘A’ rating on all of our SSL Security Tests!
We have bidders using our product from many different devices, so we’ve made sure that our product fully functions on each of these different types of devices. For this release, we adjusted our navigation menu, Support tab and carets (navigation arrows) to perform better on all devices, particularly mobile. We also made other improvements, such as making accepting Terms and Conditions more accessible for mobile users. For all of our Apple users, you’ll now see an improvement in how Sharp Auction Engine is displayed in your history and bookmarks.
Display & Navigation
We pride ourselves on offering an intuitive and clean layout for our users, so with each new release we bring numerous improvements to our display and navigation to back up our claim. V. 1.0 is no exception, as we have made many changes, some of which are detailed below:
- For each catalog, users will now see the total number of registered bidders listed. This way, bidders can keep an eye out for competition!
- Auctioneers now have full control over the page titles for their multi-instancing sites. Previously, the browser tab would display the page title as “Sharp Auction Engine,” but now auctioneers can change this to reflect their own branding right from the Theme Tab in the Auction House Settings.
- Each Item Detail page now displays the next minimum bid directly below the bid box.
- We have added information to the sign in modal for multi-instancing sites to identify the site as powered by Sharp Auction Engine and to remind users that if they have registered for any Sharp Auction Engine-powered site, they are registered for all Sharp Auction Engine-powered sites.
- Auctioneers will find that the Clerking History module on the Catalog Manager now displays the most recent bids on items within the catalog.
- We have enhanced our Address page to make it easier for a user to add a new address and set a primary address. We have done this by simplifying the process and adding help text to this screen.
- A button to Manage Bids has been added to the Bid History tab on items, allowing auctioneers quicker access to the Manage Bids screen, where auctioneers can view and retract bids.
Numerous bug fixes and improvements have been implemented site-wide for V. 1.0, with a focus on accounting, payments, and notifications.