Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of
Wed Oct 30 2013 10:35:35

eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

By: Ina Steiner

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Online sellers who use eBay's Blackthorne software will have to find a new tool to list and manage their listings next year. While it hasn't officially announced the retirement of Blackthorne, eBay has begun preparations to help sellers who use the software program make the transition to another tool.

eBay is planning to end technical support for Blackthorne in the spring and end customer support in the fall. (See today's EcommerceBytes Newsflash for details.)

On eBay's selling tools page, it lists several of its own tools with Blackthorne along with some certified providers under "All in One Solutions":

- eBay tools: Selling Manager Pro and Nexpart eBay Link (for eBay Motors Parts and Accessories).

- eBay certified providers: ChannelAdvisor, GarageSale, Infopia, Inkfrog, Kyozou, Mercent, Monsoon Commerce and Vendio.

Other certified providers such as Auctiva, frooition and SellerSourcebook are listed alongside eBay's Sell Your Item and Turbo Lister listing tools under "Listing Tools."

It's never easy to make a transition to another tool, but those who have to make the transition may be wise to consider a tool that supports multiple channels and offers reporting capabilities.

EcommerceBytes has charts where you can leave ratings and reviews for selling tools and can read how others have rated them. This is the chart for Inventory Management and Listing Tools.

If you have questions about the transition or wish to offer your colleagues advice on the tools you use, please do!

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

This user has validated their user name. by: Jessy

Wed Oct 30 11:19:24 2013

Ebay is definitely going downhill. What a disappointment! John Donahoe: the man who singlehandedly destroyed eBay

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Oct 30 16:50:50 2013

Does anyone now care, one way or the other?

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking ...

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: partsman This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 30 21:03:39 2013

Having been forced to list items via Blackthorne for the past 3 years I can attest that this software is the biggest pile of crap I have ever seen.

Good riddance, but there is no replacement.

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Global Mart Plus This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 30 22:26:13 2013


Now that reports of Blackthorne is coming to an end.......

Take it from a former Blackthorne user of 3 years and now a SixBit user of 2 years.

SixBit is the selling tool for you.

It's the most like Blackthorne there is, period. And they're in the works to make it even more Blackthorne user friendly.

Our phone number is on every one of our listings, so please feel free to contact me if want anymore info. eBay user ID - Global Mart Plus

We have no problems helping anyone make a good and educated decision.

All Blackthorne users will be making this decision over the next 11 months. Please make an informed one.

What Every eBay Blackthorne User Should Know About SixBit's eCommerce Solution

If you use eBay Blackthorne to manage your eBay listings, we'd like you to know a few things about SixBit eCommerce Solution. Being the original designers and developers of Blackthorne, we have a lot of respect for the capabilities included in Blackthorne, but we also think SixBit takes those capabilities to new levels. We have a lot to offer and we're not ashamed to point out the lessons we've learned and enhancements we've added to SixBit. So, if you would like to know how we can improve your selling experience, please take a few moments to read the following pages.

The Next Generation

SixBit's eCommerce Solution, was designed and written by the same team that designed and wrote eBay Blackthorne. We were excited to get the opportunity to redesign a new solution to address some issues with the original architecture. If you are a student of selling tools history, you will know that this is actually the 4th time our team has overhauled a seller tool to take advantage of new technology. We'd like to think we've gotten a better result every time. SixBit simply follows that path into the next generation.

More Versions to Choose From

SixBit is available in three different editions. In addition to providing similar functionality found in Blackthorne's Basic and Pro versions, we've added an Enterprise Edition at the high end.

More Ways to Save

We've been working with eBay sellers since 1997. We've seen all the changes to the site and the fees and we are well aware of how difficult it is for sellers to make a profit selling online in the current economy. We feel that if we can save you at least as much as you spend on your monthly subscription, then we are truly helping to make small businesses in America more efficient while making them more profitable at the same time.

To this end, we've added integration with some 3rd parties to provide our users with discounted USPS Priority Mail and Express Mail postage as well as discounted shipping insurance. For example, you can purchase postage for a USPS Priority Mail small flat rate box for $4.94 which is a .25 savings over retail or a .15 savings over other electronic postage solutions. See our FAQ for more details. Also, you can purchase insurance for USPS packages for .99/$100 vs. $2.25 if you purchased insurance from the post office. Shipping Insurance for UPS and FedEx costs even less at .65 per $100. Our shipping postage FAQ has all the details.

Rewarding Loyalty

Word of mouth has always been one of our best marketing tools. We have always been very grateful to our customers who have spread the word about our products, and now we'd like to give back. We will be offering an Affiliate Program that will allow you to earn a percentage of the subscriptions of everyone you refer to us. As a member of the affiliate program, you will receive a link that you can include on your website, emails, etc. For each user who subscribes to SixBit from your link, we will credit you with 5% of their subscription fees for every month they are subscribed! This might not make you rich, but it can help pay for your subscription fees and will certainly help ease your burden.

Beauty and Power

Not only have we overhauled the user interface and made the program more intuitive and appealing, but we've also added the SQL Server 2008 R2 database engine. This is the most powerful, free database engine available and will allow for database sizes up to 10GB. We don't foresee any of our users reaching this limit. The best part is that the SQL Server installation is part of our installation, so you don't need to know a thing about SQL Server to use SixBit, and won't have to deal with the issues that Blackthorne has when using a SQL Server database.

We're Behind You

We want your business to be successful and will support you in every way possible to ensure your business doesn't come to a grinding halt when you have an issue. We've integrated our support system directly into the program, so now you can create support tickets, review the documentation and even ask questions on the chat board all without leaving the program. We're a small team and we know the value of personal service and will do everything in our power to make you a fanatical customer.

Better Inventory Handling

With SixBit, you are no longer required to enter just a single cost for your inventory. SixBit maintains a complete purchase history of all your inventory items. You simply record how many you bought, and how much you paid each time you acquire inventory, and SixBit will handle all the profit and loss calculations accurately for you. We also provide you with inventory loss statistics and even track inventory on Variation items, something which Blackthorne does not do.

Better Order Processing

In SixBit, orders can contain multiple shipments, which each can contain multiple sales. You can now easily split an order into multiple shipments and print separate packing lists and postage for each shipment. Moving sales from one shipment to another is as easy as drag and drop.

More Custom Workflow

We've added the ability to create your own custom statuses in SixBit. With custom statuses, you can mimic your workflow right within the SixBit process. You can create workflow statuses for creating items (i.e. ''Description Complete'', ''Pictures Entered'', etc.) or statuses for processing Orders (i.e. ''Waiting for Engraving'', ''Waiting for Supply''). No matter how you do business, you can now keep it all organized with SixBit.

Better Image Handling

Images are now stored right in your database. You don't have to worry about sharing them across the network or making sure everyone has access to the image folder. Everyone who connects to the database will see the images and moving to another computer is as simple as copying your database.

Advanced Editing

We've added an advanced HTML and Picture editor in SixBit. You will use a state of the art editor to create your descriptions and our new picture editor to manage your pictures. Our picture editor allows you to reorder your listing pictures using drag or drop as well as automatically scale, compress, autocorrect or auto-watermark images as they are added to your database. You can even capture images directly into your database using a scanner or camera!

Better Grid Management

The grids in SixBit can load any number of records with virtually no noticeable difference in performance, and no paging required. You can now sort on all records in your filter, not just page by page.

Drop Shipping Support

With our Drop Shipper Addon Module, sellers who drop ship can greatly reduce the amount of time they spend managing their sales. Drop ship sellers can now indicate which inventory is provided by a drop shipper, and then when a sale is made, an automatic email order can be sent to the drop shipper. A special ''Waiting for Drop Shipper'' status will hold all the orders that are awaiting the input of tracking numbers from your drop shippers. Imagine how much time this could save you.

More Automation

We've added more automation to SixBit. You can now automatically have emails sent based on certain events. For example, a notification of items being shipped can be sent whenever you mark an order as shipped in the program. Also, we've incorporated the ability to have automatic random feedbacks sent when you receive an order. With just a few custom settings, you'll never have to worry about sending emails or leaving feedback again. In addition, we can even clean up pictures on your FTP site when they haven't been used for an extended period of time.

Secret Agent Man

The SixBit Agent is installed as part of SixBit and will keep your database up to date anytime your computer is on. Unlike Blackthorne's servant, the SixBit Agent runs even when SixBit isn't. You won't have any more lengthy waits for refreshes when you first startup.

Category and Item Specifics Improvements

Refreshing categories and item specifics are much faster in SixBit. We no longer keep and refresh a copy of all eBay categories. We retrieve categories the first time you use them, and then we only refresh categories that you have used in the past. Lengthy wait times for category refreshes are replaced by automatic refreshes by the Agent. You won't ever notice categories being refreshed again.

We've also greatly improved item specifics handling. You can easily add your own custom item specifics or add additional values to existing eBay item specifics.

We've revolutionized custom item specifics by introducing hierarchical item specifics. You don't have to add custom item specifics to each category anymore. If all the categories share a parent, you simply add the custom item specific to the parent and all subcategories will automatically get it.

By introducing ''private'' item specifics, you can now tie custom fields directly to eBay categories. If you create a custom field in Blackthorne, you will see the custom field on every new item. In SixBit, you create a private item specific that is tied to a category so you only see it for items in that category. Because they are private, you are the only one who sees them, and they do not get sent to eBay.

Ready to Grow

SixBit has been re-architected from the ground up to handle multiple selling sites. Our initial release is only for eBay, but we have designed and structured the interface to support multiple sites, which we plan to add as we continue to grow. We've already introduced support for bidStart, our second site, and are working on Amazon for next year.

But Wait, There's More!

In addition to the major enhancements I've described, we've also improved SixBit in a million little ways including:

Adding a Dashboard view so you can see how your business is performing at a glance.
An addon module for Drop Shippers to automatically email suppliers when an item is sold.
Adding integration with Endicia's Label Server (Dazzle no longer required)
Adding a Pick List
Adding an advanced tool to answer buyer questions using your own predefined replies.
Using familiar ribbon bars like in Microsoft Office
Adding a 3D flip view to look at your items just like you scan music in iTunes.
Adding Excel Style filtering
Items are no longer tied to duration and format, so there's no unnecessary duplicates of items.
No more database repairs required
Item specifics can now be used as variables in Descriptions and Emails.
Packing lists and postage always print in the order they were selected.

It Doesn't Cost Anything to Look

We know how busy you can be running a business online, and switching seller tools can seem like a big pain in the neck, but we hope that you will take the time to check out SixBit to see how it can make your life easier in the long run. We've done everything we can to make the switch easier including providing an import from your Blackthorne database and giving you the first 30 days free as a trial. If you need more time to evaluate, just let us know.

We all know the eCommerce world has changed. Maybe it's time for you to change too!

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: rosachs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:06:24 2013

I've used exactly 4 auction management desktop applications since 1999 -- all developed by John Slocum and crew.  When eBay bought Blackthorne Software (John's company) and acquired the crew, I was skeptical, and when eBay cut them loose as the recent recession moved into full gear, I was vindicated.  eBay just can't handle true innovation and creative thinking!

I've been running SixBit now for several years.  The transition was not a big deal... in fact, transitioning the data was easier than expected since SB handles the installation of SQL, rather than requiring the user to do it themselves (as BT does).  Innovative -- having the software install what it needs to work itself!

Took a bit of time to move all that data from BT to SB -- I'd been accumulating sales data since 1999 after all.  But that's what computers do best -- mundane, mind-numbing, repetitive tasks, over and over and over, very very quickly.  So I let my computer do the work as I watched On Demand on cable.

With the recent ''Blackthorne-esque'' updates, many Blackthorne users will feel right at home.  Once they get settled in and start checking out all the new features and capabilities, they're going to wonder why they waited so long!

Just don't panic and think you have to change tomorrow.  Get done with the holidays and then take whatever lag time you have in Jan/Feb/Mar to give SB a run.  I think you'll be impressed.

14 years and I still like this guy's design... and after 30+ years of doing the same myself, I think that means something.  :)

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Grandma_Fish This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:34:34 2013

There is one other stand-alone desktop software alternative for the very small Ebay seller, who doesn't have a large inventory and mainly just deals in one-of-a-kind items and for whom Sixbit is maybe not quite suitable. It's called Auction Wizard 2000 and it's by Standing Wave Software. I just started using it and the learning curve is not quite as steep as Blackthorne. It does most of what I need and, from what I understand, Standing Wave does use Ebay's API, so there shouldn't be any problem with the software keeping up with Ebay's myriad changes.

The company has apparently been around since the late Nineties. A member of a seller group I belong to has been using Auction Wizard for 10 years and swears by it. So hopefully the company will be around for awhile. The yearly subscription fee after paying for the initial first year's registration is also substantially lower than Blackthorne Pro's monthly fee. However, Auction Wizard 2000 is not as detailed and doesn't have as extensive reporting as Blackthorne Pro. But a lot of that I didn't use anyway. I Googled everything I could think of and this was really the only stand-alone alternative that I was able to find out there that was suitable for handling the type of listings and after-auction reporting that I needed. Maybe I missed one, though. If anyone knows of any other stand-alone programs (besides Turbolister - ugh), I'd welcome their suggestions.

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Grandma_Fish This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 00:41:34 2013

Regarding my above post and out of respect for the software developer, I didn't mean to imply that Auction Wizard 2000 cannot handle large inventories or stock items. It does have that capability and interacts fully with your email provider and PayPal and keeps a running ledger of expenditures. But it's also suitable for those sellers dealing in just one-of-kind unique items as well. I've used Turbolister and Blackthorne both and, to me, Auction Wizard is a kind of a cross between the two and worth taking a look at.  

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Global Mart Plus This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 07:36:15 2013

Going from one tool to another is bound to highlight the things that don't work the same.

Some things that SixBit users would miss if they had to go back to Blackthorne...

- discounted Priority and Express Mail postage
- discounted shipping insurance
- excel style filtering in the grids
- grouping in the grids
- agent that is always running even when SixBit isn't
- never having to wait for category downloads
- never having to repair the database
- not having pictures in the database
- no watermarks on pictures
- allocation plans - Scarcity Sells - 50 items in stock, but only show buyers you have 5, when 1 sells, Sixbit will automatically put the item back at 5, while your taking a nap.
- automatic sku generation
- item performance report
- better item specifics manager
- better variations creator
- cost of inventory report
- predefined replies in buyer questions tool
- the improved report editor
- pick lists
- drop shipper support
- storing multiple tracking numbers per order
- automatic emails
- analysis tools
- integration with Endicia's label server
- buyers purchase history


Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Global Mart Plus This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 11:11:13 2013



Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 12:14:21 2013

@Philip Cohen -

Unfortunately, this does adversely affect thousands of us Sellers who are basically screwed and have no choice but to remain on eBay (yes, against our wills most likely...), and need information to run our businesses.

While it certainly doesn't surprise me that eBay (with head turkey Ding-a-ling) has done it to us again - built up something we came to depend on, then chopped us off at the knees and let us fall with virtually nothing to cushion the fall.  That's how they operate.  No morals, no care for THEIR customers.

I have been using a combination of Blackthorne and inkFrog for several years.  BT for the after-auction information for my database, and IF for listing.  Both of these two suck at what the opposite is good at.  Listing through BT is a nightmare, and IF offers virtually nothing for after-auction support of financial details.

Thanks to those who have posted about other systems we can use to replace BT.  I'd heard of Auction Wizard, but not SixBits.  I see eBay is pushing Auctiva, IF, SixBits and Selling Manager Pro on their ''dumping us'' announcement.

Any others out there we might be able to use?

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Manya This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 31 21:45:03 2013

And yet this was a selling tool that ebay pushed and gladly took your money at 24.95 per month to rent. Now the same developer is back with sixbits at a cost of 69.95 per month. Ebay is pushing this program to safely move your data base over from one to the other.No change just more money

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Just My Humble View This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 09:50:18 2013

Actually, the Sixbit Small Business Edition ($35/month) does *almost* everything that Blackthorne Pro does -- but it also has more features not included in Blackthorne. The Enterprise Edition ($70/month) has features that you won't find anywhere else.

I was very hesitant to change, but finally got so frustrated with constant ''database repairs'' and other Blackthorne issues that I made a complete overnight jump to Sixbit over a year ago after Blackthorne shredded my inventory count for the 3rd time. I never looked back.  

Yes, there was a learning curve. But I got so much more from the Sixbit Small Business Edition than I'd received from BTPro. And there is real customer support from the Dev Team. I'm extremely happy with the software. It gives me the time to do what I do best -- without endless issues and no tech support.

You will find many, many former Blackthorne users who are currently using Sixbit software, very happily.  

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

This user has validated their user name. by: gettingby

Mon Nov 4 10:51:13 2013

Sixbit keeps getting better and better.

October 30, 2013 - v. 1.04.016
We're calling this our Blackthorne Lovers release. because in this version we've concentrated on you past Blackthorne users and added some features we know that you are going to love.

Blackthorne Lovers Features

Grid Layouts
We're releasing our improved grid layouts that let you see the data you need to see for each view.   You can move columns, size columns, hide/show columns, sort and group the grid and save your settings as named grid layouts.  Then, as you use these grid layouts in your views, SixBit will remember which one you used for each view.  You'll be able to fully customize the data you see for each view.  Please see Saving Grid Layouts for more info.

Side by Side Editing
We've also introduced side-by-side editing of items.  You can now open the Edit Item window and leave it open.  As you select different items in the Sell Items grid, it will appear in the Edit window.   This should greatly reduce the time it takes you to make edits to items.   Simply move and size the grid and edit windows where you want them.  They can be side by side or one on top of the other.  If you are lucky enough to have two monitors, put one window on each monitor and kick into high gear.

For new Blackthorne recruits, we've also created an ''Importing from Blackthorne'' video to get you started off on the right foot.

Packing Lists, Pick Lists, Mailing Labels and Inventory Labels Moved Into the Database

In prior versions, these reports were stored as separate files outside of the database.  They have now been moved into the database.  This will allow all users to see the same reports without having to copy the files to each computer.  As a result, if you have created any custom named reports, you will need to perform a one time import of your custom files.  Simply go to Options Printers and select the appropriate tab.  Then click the ''Manage'' button next to the report selection dropdown.  When the Manage window opens, choose ''Import'' and select the custom report you created.  It will be located in ''C:ProgramDataSixBit eports''.

Replaced Existing HTML Editor
Due to issues with the old HTML Editor, we have replaced it in the new release.  You will notice the toolbar options at the top are different along with these other changes:

This version has an inline spell checker
Choosing between WYSIWYG and HTML view is now in the toolbar at the top
HTML is verified, but not processed and converted nearly as much as the old editor.  Issues with duplicated text should no longer occur.
CSS and Javascript no longer need to be stored behind the ''Edit CSS'' button. They can be added directly in with the HTML.  We have combined them for you in this version.

Updated Catalog Selection
Previously catalog items were selected from the Item Specifics area.  Now, you can enter keywords, search terms, UPC's/ISBN's/EAN's/MPN's, etc. in the Product Title or ProductID fields and use a Search button to the right of the title to identify catalog items.

In addition, we've made the following fixes and enhancements:

We've reduced the time it takes to load the item window and navigate back and forth between items
Added the ability to import Compatibility Set names from Blackthorne
Added a Cost of Inventory Report (Sell Items Reports)
Made it quicker to Add Stock from the Edit Item window.
Added presets to the Check Listings grid.
Added ''Is Variation'' field to the Sell Items grid.
Added support for Compatibilities for UK and AU.
Added the ability to print individual inventory labels for variations.  (Right click the variations grid/Print Inventory Label)
Added the ability to leave the Preview window open and navigate from item to item in the grid.
Variation pictures now also appear in the [[PictureGallery]] tag.
Fixed some memory issues with Preview and Item Edit.
We now also end auctions when using Allocation Plans and inventory drops to 0.
Added the ability to copy item specifics values when creating item specifics
Updated the grid control to improve performance and fix crashing issue when grid was empty.
Custom Item Specifics can now be used as the picture variation
Increased the database backup timeout to prevent some failed backups
Fixed and issue with the ''Duplicate Running Listings'' view.
Color coded item specifics fields.  User defined fields are green, private fields are orange.
Added OrderNotes as an available field on Packing Lists
Added the ability to save searches for use by all users.
Added the ability to set the selection tool aspect ratio in the Picture Editor.
Fixed an issue with the display of dependent item specifics
Fixed an issue with countdown times not working
Fixed the batch change of the variation scarcity level
Since Picture Pack is free for eBay US users, we now automatically turn it on and hide it from the interface.  This will ensure that users will get the zoom capability in their gallery images whenever they are larger than 500 pixels.
When using eBay Picture Services, references to the images within the Description will now be in their original size.  Previously they would only appear in 500 pixels.
Improved the efficiency of submitting listings.  EPS pictures will now only be uploaded if they haven't been uploaded in the last 60 days.
To reduce data entry time, the Add Stock window will now default the Cost and Supplier to the values used the last time stock was added.
Fixed a bug with the country missing on mailing labels.
Added the ability to reorder variations on running listings.
Fixed an issue with the Pick List quantity for orders with missing shipments.
Fixed an issue losing the active flag when duplicating variations.
The Selling Manager Sale Record # is now returned to our External OrderID field.
The shipment record now gets the default dimensions from the items in the shipment.

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Bruce This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 24 15:58:23 2013

I highly recommend SixBit. It's by the original Blackthorne's powerful, stable, constantly improved and VERY reasonably priced. You can even import all of your listings from eBay OR from Blackthorne.

To top it all off, you can try it for free for a full 30 days.

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: Bruce This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 1 11:44:59 2014

Let's try that link again.>

Perminate Link for eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne   eBay Close to Announcing Retirement of Blackthorne

by: AngelaTC This user has validated their user name.

Fri Feb 7 16:02:59 2014

Seeing the SixBit spam here is enough to make me shy away from them.

Their price is too high for me. $70 a month?  And that doesn't include a consignment module?  

I'll go back to Turbolister before I pay $70 a month.  

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