In the past, when we have changed our processing services, what we really changed was some combination of the price and the length of time it took to get the cards on the site. We have tuned those two variables several times over the years as we’ve grown and have always tried to strike the right balance. What has never changed, however, was the way we did the work. For years, no matter the price point or the deadline, we’ve done the identification and scanning processes more or less the same way – one order at a time, and uploading all the cards once the entire order is done. While our new Premium and Basic processing services may appear to be another tuning of rates and timelines, they are actually completely different from this old model.
The Premium service is significantly streamlined and much more scalable. It is now possible for some cards to be live on the site within a few hours of arriving. We expect most items to be done the day after they arrive, but it might take up to 3 business days if we get slammed.
Previously it was virtually impossible for us to finish all of our steps the same day an item arrived. Now, all processing is done ASAP, and items are handed from one department directly to the next. We can even have many different people working at the same time on the same batch if necessary. Once all of the steps have been completed on all of the items in the Premium batch, the items are automatically uploaded into your account. This used to require someone to review the fees and confirm completion. Now, Premium batches are generally small enough that the computer can safely determine if all stages have been completed, and your items no longer have to wait for extra human steps.
You can expect to see Premium items going live Monday through Friday. Occasionally some may also go live on the weekends, but don’t count on it.
The Basic Service
The Basic service has been revamped and re-engineered even more than the Premium service. Instead of doing entire orders one-by-one like in the past, we have developed a new method to work with like items in batches.
To describe this process, let’s use the analogy of a card show full of tables of cards from different sellers. Rather than sending our team table-by-table to process each of the items at one table before going to the next table, we now do an extra step that makes things more efficient. The step is kind of like having one employee responsible for hockey cards, another employee responsible for football cards, and another employee responsible for separating the cards by sport. Now when someone processes cards, they can focus on one particular genre instead of having to jump all over the place. This analogy is only intended to give you an idea of the kind of optimizations we have made. The technical details are much more complex than this. We can neither confirm nor deny whether our previous or current process have any resemblance to this analogy. :)
In practice, we expect to focus different members of the team on different types of items each week. Every week we will process items from the current year and items that are in season, as well as other items that tend to be hot. Items that are out of season and that might not be super hot will only be processed every two to three weeks.
Most of the processing will be done Monday through Thursday. On Fridays we will review our work, and as soon as we have signed off on the items, the computer will automatically upload the partial batch to the website. Once we get near the 8 week mark, we will clean up any remaining items and confirm that the correct fees are charged. Our goal is to have an average per-card processing time of less than 4 weeks.
This past Friday and Saturday we finished our first Basic upload, giving more than 100 sellers items to price. We have already completed more than 50% of the Basic items people have submitted. The new system gives us the flexibility to assess the overall incoming volume and be sensitive to the current demands of the buying market. The increased efficiency gives us time to focus additional efforts on the quality of the data that we associate with the images.
$25 Minimum for Basic Service
In order to encourage items to be submitted in quantities we can deal with more efficiently, the Basic service does have a $25 minimum. You are free to send in fewer than 100 cards for the Basic service, but it is best to submit at least 100 items per batch.
Items Requiring Premium Service
As of February 1st, all Mailbox items are $1 each and will be processed with our Premium service.
In addition, the following items will be processed with our Premium service:
- Graded cards
- Encased cards
- Oversized cards
- Sports Poker Chips, Coins, Pins & Bottle Caps
If you send any of the above items in a batch for Basic service, they will be separated out and processed with our Premium service. To make life easier on our Processing Team, we would appreciate you separately grouping any of the above items from the Basic service items within your submission.
We appreciate all your great feedback and constructive suggestions so far. We are working hard behind the scenes to get a host of new features launched, so please keep your eyes on our blog and subscribe so we can keep you in the loop!