Sunday, May 18, 2014

StubHub Listing Manager +

"Software is Never Done..."

"...You just kinda choose when to stop working on it."  When I heard one of my gSchool instructors, Jeff Dean, say that, it really hit home.  It allowed me to give myself permission to stop working on my last personal project.  When I started the StubHub Listing Manager +, I had one clear goal:  get all my inventory and sale data form StubHub and put it in a format that easy for me to navigate and digest.  But once I'd done that, I had a million other ideas of what I could do, and truthfully, it became a little overwhelming.  I felt as if I'd never finish this project.

The Problem

StubHub is great for the average consumer who has a couple ticket groups they want to sell or buy.  But if you have a large inventory of tickets, navigating your inventory and sales is a cumbersome process because their take on inventory management is: "Let's list everything the user has for sale on a single page, in chronological order."  There isn't any sorting by date or by event.  There's no clear way to find out how many tickets you have a for given event, how close each event is, or where exactly your prices stand in comparison to other tickets on the market.  You can get that information, but it involves you clicking between multiple screens, writing down information, and manually comparing it to your own.  Simple if you have a couple tickets for sale.  Not simple if you have hundreds or even thousands of tickets for sale.

The Interim Solution

Most large sellers will get a third-party point-of-sale system that holds their inventory and allows them to view it in a sortable manner and provide them with detailed information about the current market, their individual ticket groups, and previous sales.  The catch is, these third-party point-of-sale systems cost between $200-$300 per month, charge you an additional fee per sale, require you to have a credit card processor, business phone lines, deal with chargebacks, handle shipping on your own, and take care of your own customer service.  I did that for a few years, but ultimately found that the overhead wasn't justified.  Well over $1000 per moth went into managing my own inventory.  And the headaches of customer service, dealing with credit card processing and shipping just weren't worth it.  Luckily, if you sell only on StubHub, they handle all that for you (sans inventory management) and charge you 15% per transaction, which is a little higher than handling it on your own, but well worth not having to deal with all the aforementioned headaches.

The New Solution

So after a few years of doing all on our own, we decided to shut it all down and only deal with StubHub.  The problem, as mentioned above, is that inventory management is a huge hassle because it has to be done manually.  So with my new programming super power, I decided to create my own makeshift inventory manager that GET's, POST's, PUT's and DELETE's from StubHub's API, essentially putting the burden on them.  In addition, to verify that a sale has been paid (which a point-of-sale would do for you), I integrated my inventory manager with the PayPal API to verify that the sale StubHub shows, has actually been paid out.

After some quick Bootstrap styling, it's as done as I want it to be... even though there's loads of other features I still think about adding.  Above is a brief video of the finished product.


I learned that all API's are not made the same.  StubHub's API is poorly maintained, lacking a lot information, and their developer support is virtually non-existent.  Kind of sad for such a large company, but it taught me that sometimes you have to fiddle around... a lot... to get things to work.  Because that's the only way it's going to happen.  PayPal wasn't much different.  While they have new RESTful API's that are supposed to be easy to work with, all the information I needed had to come from their Classic (ahem.. Outdated) API's.  I ended up using their SDK gem instead of doing it all manually because it was such a huge pain in the rear.

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