If the 3rd time is the charm, what is the 3,333rd?

Version 3333
I just released version 3333 of our internal application today. This is the software that is used by our 50+ employees to manage all of our processing and shipping. Yes, that means that I release more than once a day on average. This is part of our competitive advantage. We are able to quickly adapt to the changing needs of the business, and boy, have there been a lot of those lately.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to catch up with all of the changes. We are rapidly adapting and evolving to meet our new needs. Good thing I put in my 10,000 hours with Microsoft before launching this business. I couldn’t imagine trying to tackle these challenges without so much technology at my fingertips.

Let the Race Begin: Thousands in Prizes

The Ultimate Card # Race Starts Now
We are launching a 1 week race to to get as many card numbers as possible.

Play the Ultimate Card # Race as much as you can between now and Saturday night April 12th at 11:59 PM PST.

Keep an eye on the Weekly Leaderboard.  We will be awarding the following prizes for most points.

  • 1st Place: $500
  • 2nd Place: $250
  • 3rd Place: $125
  • 4th Place: $50
  • 5th Place: $25
  • #1 Fastest Time: $250

+ $5 for everyone that earns at least 10,000 points on the Ultimate Card # Race this week.

Double Bonus
If you collectively complete the challenge by reaching 100% of our 7.5 million point goal, we will double all of the prizes and we will award 10 addition $100 rewards randomly based on the number of points you earn on the Ultimate Card # Race.  Spread the word and get as many people to play as possible so that you can all get double the prizes.

Notes
The new Ultimate Card # Race is a simplified version of our previous Card # challenges.  It only requires that you enter the numeric portion of the card number.  You should be able to get some amazing times.

Are you up for the challenge?

COMC is Hiring in Redmond + $500 Referral Bonus

Want an opportunity that is more than just a job?  COMC is changing the game, and we want you!

We need extra hands to help with Order Fulfillment, Sports Card Identification, and Inventory Processing.
Positions start at $10-$13/hour depending on experience.
Full-time employees are eligible for medical and dental benefits as well as nearly 4 weeks of paid time off per year.

Submit your application

Refer a friend and receive $500 COMC Store credit or $400 cash.

Here is our Redmond headquarters on a beautiful spring day.

COMC

Simplified Processing Services

Thank you so much for your overwhelming support and encouragement as we take on the enormous task of creating a new catalog and price guide.  You make all of the long hours and late nights worth the effort.  COMC Nation is the best!!!

For us to build our new catalog and price guide, we need to free up the sports card experts on our processing team. We simplified our processing services and streamlined our systems to make us more efficient so we can still handle a large volume of cards while working on these new projects.

Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated as we make these adjustments.  Some of these changes may only be temporary, but we suspect that many of these simplifications will stay permanently.
blog pic-basic vs premium1
Streamlined Processing Services
Rather than the 40+ processing options offered today, we will offer just two services for cards and two for comics.  If you were counting on any of the old options, you have until Tuesday, January 21st to postmark any submissions using the current services.

Premium: Fast Processing for Any Item
We purchased some new equipment, wrote a bunch of software, and adapted our systems to allow us to cost-effectively process small packages quickly.

For only $1 per card, your cards will be added to the site within 1 to 3 business days. Although 3 days is the guaranteed maximum lead time, we will strive to get the items added to your account as quickly as we can.  You can use this service for cards of any size, including graded and encased cards, and there is no minimum charge.  For example, you can send us one graded card and receive it in your account very quickly for only $1.

Basic: Flexible Processing for Standard Items
Many users requested their submission batches be partially uploaded instead of waiting until everything is done. We are pleased to announce that our new systems and processes now allow us to do this.

Rather than offering our old One Month processing service and charging $0.25/card up front, the Basic processing service has a 2-8 week lead time, and we don’t charge you the $0.25 per card until the cards are added to your account. Although 8 weeks is the guaranteed maximum lead time, we expect the average to be much faster.

Typically the hottest cards and in-season sports will be first in line.  For example, during the summer we might process the current year’s products every week, but basketball, hockey and football cards from the 90’s might only be processed every third week.  The overall average processing time should still be less than one month.  As always, the 90 days of free storage starts once items are added to your account.

To keep things simple, we are going to require a $25 minimum when using the Basic service.  Less than 5% of our One Month processing fees come from submissions that are fewer than 100 items, so we hope this does not severely inconvenience anyone.  If you were used to sending smaller batches, you may now choose to wait until you have 100 items before shipping them to us.  Hopefully this saves you some money on shipping.  It definitely helps us be a lot more efficient.

Expensive Items
Our Basic service is intended for simple items that we can process quickly.  When items are expensive we need to do extra verification to make sure buyers will be happy with their purchase. Please use the Premium service for items that you want to list for more than $50.  If you use our Basic service with expensive items, there will be a $0.50 fee to upgrade your item. You will be able to instantly price your items at more than $50, and we will assign the item to one of our card experts for a more detailed review. They will double check to confirm that the item is identified correctly and that we didn’t miss any condition notes for flaws that might not be visible in the scan. All items processed with our old processing services are exempt from this new requirement.

Mailbox Submissions
Starting February 1st, we will process all Mailbox submissions through our Premium service.  We appreciate all of the new users who have tried this service during its testing phase.  Now that we have data about how the service is used, we have discovered that it is extremely time consuming to open all of the packages, so we can only afford to offer this service at the price point of our Premium service.

You may continue to have items sent to “COMC Mailbox C/O [your account name]” and we will process them in 1-3 days and add them into your account for $1/card with no minimum.  Items will frequently be scanned in toploaders, and these items will be subject to an extra $0.20 shipping charge.

When the remaining legacy mailboxes are opened, we will process the items at $0.50/item, and we will waive the $5 minimum.

Graded, Encased, Jumbo, and Extra-Thick Trading Cards as well as Sports Poker Chips, Coins, and Pins
All of these items should be processed with the Premium service.  It is the same price as the old One Month service, but your items will be processed in 1-3 business days, and there is no minimum fee.

Hot List
The new Basic service has “Hot List” features built into it.  So the “Hot List – One Day” service is going away.  You may include Hot List items with the rest of your Basic items, and they will be given higher priority.

To Be Graded
The old To Be Graded service is going away.  You can use either Premium or Basic for anything you want graded.

One Week
We know a lot of you like our One Week processing service.  Unfortunately we need to significantly adjust our offerings to support our new work load.  We expect you will use the Premium service for some of your items and the Basic service for the rest. If you were willing to pay $0.50 for our old One Week service, there is a good chance your items will be processed on the faster side of the 2-8 week spectrum of the Basic service.

Bulk Services
All of the bulk services are going away.  The Bulk Two Day service will likely be permanently gone because the new Premium service is less expensive and basically the same speed.  The Bulk Two Week service is in a similar boat as the One Week service.  You will probably be happy with the Basic service as a replacement for the Bulk Two Week service.  The Bulk Ten Week service is being sacrificed because we need our team to focus on new projects.  If anyone really liked any of the bulk services, you have two weeks to get your items in the mail.

Beta Test
We don’t have the bandwidth to process new Beta Test submissions.  Once we get the new catalog under control, we will bring this back.

Comic Processing
Basic processing is $1 per comic book and has a lead time of 2-8 weeks.
Premium processing is $3 per comic book and has a lead time of 1-3 business days.

Summary
Starting Wednesday, January 22nd we will only offer the following processing services:

Basic Cards 2-8 weeks $0.25/card $25 minimum fee
Premium Cards 1-3 business days $1/card No minimum fee
Basic Comics 2-8 weeks $1/comic $25 minimum fee
Premium Comics 1-3 business days $3/comic No minimum fee

You can start trying these services today.  Be sure to remember the following…

  • Basic is the lowest priced service and works for raw items that are standard sized or smaller.
  • Premium is very fast and not very expensive.  It works for any item.
  • Use the Premium option for items that you expect to list for more than $50.  If you accidentally miss some expensive items in your Basic submission, it’s no big deal, but there will be a charge of $0.50 to upgrade those items.

We hope these changes are not too much of an inconvenience for you.  In many cases these new services will improve your selling experience because of faster processing speeds and/or lower fees.  As we catch up on the catalog and price guide project, we will reconsider what services we can offer.

Changing the Shape of COMC in 2014

I hope all of you enjoyed some wonderful holidays and are prepared for an exciting new year. At COMC, I know that’s the case. To get things started, we have a very big announcement to make.

A Bit of History
Six and a half years ago we made our first appearance at the National Sports Collectors Convention to unveil our innovative consignment concept. From day one, we wanted to offer a service where people could see the scans of the actual cards alongside the catalog information, including book value.

We were very fortunate to grab the attention of Dr. Jim Beckett and Peter Gudmundsson, the CEO of Beckett at the time. Jim was very interested in our ideas and recommended that Beckett do what it could to help us see where this concept could go. Within a few months we had our first data licensing agreement signed.

Since the beginning, we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Beckett, allowing us to focus on our core competencies while utilizing some of theirs. We are very grateful for this relationship and thankful for their support while we grew from literally nothing to become the second largest marketplace for single sports cards. Being second to eBay is not too shabby.

Changing Tides
A few years back the ownership of Beckett changed hands, and earlier this month the new owner informed me that Beckett is no longer interested in partnering with us.

What does this mean for COMC?
We will replace the catalog data we received from Beckett over the years with a new catalog we are building from scratch. We will also replace the book value information on the website with a new “suggested list price” based on our sales data.

While these are daunting tasks that will require enormous amounts of effort, all of us here at COMC are eager to participate in this project. COMC was built by collectors for collectors. We listen to your needs and care deeply about providing the best service possible for you. Now we have the incredible opportunity to offer that same level of service for catalog and pricing data.

Temporary Impact on COMC Services
We look forward to rolling out these updates over the next several months, but in the meantime there will be a transition period where we cannot offer all of the same services we have historically offered.

  1. Static Book Prices – Until we establish our new “suggested list price”, the book values listed on the website will not be updated.
  2. Consolidated Processing Services – We will post another blog entry announcing the temporarily changed processing services we will offer while our sports card experts create the new catalog.
  3. Interim Catalog Data – While we replace the catalog data, there may be periods where we don’t have all of the same data we previously had.

Long Term Impact on COMC Services
This is where things get really exciting. Here are some of the changes we expect to see.

  • More detailed and accurate catalog based on actual, verified cards
  • Pricing data that is tuned to our marketplace
  • Freedom to list our data on any site, service, or marketplace we choose
  • Ability to sell or give away data

What do you want to see?

  • What card attributes would you like to search, filter, and sort by?
  • Do you want to contribute to the new catalog? Should we charge for pricing data so we can pay those who contribute to the catalog?
  • Where else would you like your cards listed and advertised?

On a Personal Note
I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities ahead of us. Since I was 9 years old, I have studied price guides. I went on to get my Bachelor of Science in Math and Master of Science in Computer Science. The first piece of software I ever wrote was to help me build complete sets of sports. I spent 10 years with Microsoft helping design and build Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access. I literally design databases, write code, and solve math problems in my sleep. I have put in my 10,000 hours, and I am finally free to do a project that I was born to do.

The New Year brings a great opportunity to partner with you to explore the many ways our catalog and pricing data can benefit collectors. Please let me know what hopes and ideas you have for this new service in the comments below. I will personally read every one of them.

Happy 2014!

Tim Getsch
Founder and CEO
COMC.com

Happy Holidays, Enjoy what matters most

15 years ago Julia and I first met.  At the time, I was living in the basement at my parents’ house while going to grad school at the University of Minnesota.  Parts of my room were literally filled from floor to ceiling with sports cards, computers, and text books.

Now we work together in a building filled with 10 million sports cards, 100+ computers, and even those old text books.  This week, that education really paid off, and I was able to invent some new technology that uses my math and computer science degrees to analyze images of sports cards.  We have been literally burning the midnight oil to prepare for a major announcement coming out in the next week.

In the meantime, please enjoy the things that matter most in life, and have a very happy holidays!

Image

10 Tips for a Successful Black Friday

Black Friday weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year.  Here are some tips and tricks to help you have a successful Black Friday on COMC.

Tip #1: Start shopping now
We expect that about 90% of all items on the site will be on sale when Black Friday comes around.  So get things in your shopping cart or on your watch list so that you are ready to scoop things up as early as you can on Friday.

Tip #2: Purchase items with Store Credit
During big shopping days the fastest way to purchase an item is with Store Credit.  If you have to wait for PayPal or Amazon to notify us that they have collected payment for the items in your shopping cart, those items may get scooped up by someone else.  So get your account funded as quickly as possible and start shopping.  Plus, you get an extra $5 for every $100 of Store Credit you purchase on Black Friday Weekend.

Tip #3: Don’t wait for the search results to update
Once 12AM PST comes around, we expect to have more than 6 million items that need to be discounted.  It will take some time for the search results to reflect the discounts. However, the sale prices will be live everywhere else.  That is why having items in your shopping cart or watch list is so advantageous.  The Product Details, Item Details, and Make Offer pages will all reflect the discounted sale price immediately at midnight.

Tip #4: Use “full-price” offersFull-Price
When you put multiple items in your shopping cart you can make one offer to each different seller.  If that offer is equal to the seller’s discounted asking price, the offer will be instantly accepted.  This is very handy if a seller is running a steeply discounted sale.  It allows you to quickly purchase their items all at once.

Tip #5: Snag the biggest discounts first
Start by going to the Promotions page and use the new dropdown to sort the list of sales so that you can easily find the best deals.  If you already have a bunch of items in your shopping cart from that seller, you can bring that seller to the top of your Make Offer page by clicking Make Offer on any of their items.  If you don’t actually want to purchase that item, you can simply remove it from your Make Offer page, and then you can proceed with making a “full-price” offer to quickly scoop up their items.

Tip #6: Be sure to request shipment before midnight Saturday
You get 5 times the entries for our Cyber Monday Shopping Sprees on items that are purchased and shipped on Friday and Saturday.  Also, you will get a $5 store credit bonus for every 50 items you have shipped in November.

Tip #7: Be patient, and enjoy the hunt
We will be working around the clock to try to keep the servers running as smoothly as possible, but we expect to get more traffic than ever before.  So we might run into some new stresses.  We will do our best to help people out.  Some actions might take longer than normal because of the high traffic.  If one part of the site isn’t working optimally, try another part of the site.     

Tip #8: Remember this is just a hobby & enjoy the holiday
There will be a buying frenzy, and you will miss out on some great deals.  That is part of the game.  It is OK, keep shopping, and get as many deals as you can find.

Tip #9: Sellers, Respond to offers quickly or turn them off
If you will not be able to quickly respond to offers over Black Friday Weekend, we recommend making sure your Minimum Offer Percentage is greater than your promotional discount.  This will prevent buyers from making offers.  If you choose to accept offers over the weekend, please respond as quickly as possible.  The buyers are trying to get extra credit and prizes.

Tip 10: Sellers, be sure to approve your Black Friday Sale early
If your promotion is approved before midnight on Thursday, this will make sure that your sale goes live as early as possible.  We will try to get other sales live as quickly as we can, but they will need to be staged.  Worst case, the search results may not get updated until the following day.

Happy Hunting!

“Hot List” Processing Special!

Hello collectors and sellers! COMC is offering a new special that we’re excited to tell you about – we’re calling it The COMC Hot List and we’re hoping it’ll put a little extra excitement into your COMC experience.

2011 Playoff Contenders #227B - Colin Kaepernick no logo AU/250* [Mint] - Courtesy of COMC.comWe’ve asked our passionate team members: who are the hottest players, teams, and card sets currently on the market? We’ve boiled the list down to an even ten, and added a bonus two in honor of the Super Bowl:

The Hot List
Colin Kaepernick
Kyrie Irving
Damian Lillard
Kevin Durant autographs
2011-12 & 2012-13 Panini XRC redeemed (Basketball)
2012-13 Panini Prizm Prizms Green and Prizms Gold (Basketball)
Mike Zunino
Jurickson Profar
Mike Trout autographs
2010-Present Bowman Chrome serial # /50 or lower (Baseball)
Baltimore Ravens
San Francisco 49ers

Hot List Special = One Week -> One Day
Starting today, each player, team, or set on the Hot List will qualify for our “Hot List Special” processing. With this service, you will receive One Day processing at the One Week price. That is $0.50 per raw trading card and $0.75 per graded, encased, or jumbo card.

How to Submit Hot List Items for Consignment
* Clearly write “Hot List Special” on the outside of the package
* $5 minimum batch fee (We recommend submitting 10+ items.)
* 200 item maximum per week
* Must be post marked by February 6th, 2013
* Must be mailed to our US address
(Our Canadian warehouse only supports One Month service currently.)
* Submissions with non-Hot List items will be downgraded to One Week service

You are welcome to submit multiple batches with different service levels in the same package, but you must clearly label each service level you would like.

The most exciting thing is that this Hot List special is a trial run of an ongoing feature we’d like to offer. Soon, we’ll be posting on Facebook and Twitter and ask you, our followers: who do you think is “Hot”? Based on your input and our team’s research we’ll put together a list of players/teams/sets for future Hot Lists. Together we can heat up the site for everyone!

Thanks!
COMC

Disabling Port Sales Until After Cyber Monday

We have tracked down some of the root causes of the performance issues while the site is under heavy load. Unfortunately large port purchases need to lock the entire site for too long. We will not be approving any Port Sale classified ads until Tuesday.

None of our Black Friday Weekend promotions apply to Port Sales anyhow. Sorry for the inconvenience. We recommend running Promotions this weekend instead of trying to do any Port Sales.

Say Hi to Steve in Chicago

Steve Hollander

Steve Hollander

This weekend Steve Hollander will be at the Chicago Sun Times. Stop by our booth and say hello. Steve will not be accepting submissions, but please take the opportunity to ask questions and learn about all the new stuff we are working on. Here are just a few of the things in the works: Black Friday Promotions, Grading & Condition Reviews, Referral Program, Beta Test (Comics, Coins, Memorabilia…), Canadian Warehouse, Drop-off/Pick-up Programs, Kiosks, The Vault…

November 16-18, 2012
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
5555 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018

Show Hours
Friday November 16: VIP 4:00pm-9:00pm General Admission 4:30pm-9:00pm
Saturday November 17: VIP 9:00am-5:00pm General Admission 9:30am-5:00pm
Sunday November 18: VIP 9:30am-4:00pm General Admission 10:00am-4:00pm