We’re Back…in Card Show Mode!

First, a sleepy, furry word from Tim:

Thank you for your patience while we transitioned to our new catalog.  Welcome to a new era for COMC.com!  We are grateful for the outpouring of support we are receiving, and we appreciate feedback as we continue to work together, building our new catalog.

As we mentioned previously, the next few weeks will be a bit rocky with missing data, errors, and many opportunities for improvement.  Everything submitted is for sale as usual, but items that are missing data are harder to browse/search. The current state of the site is “Card Show” mode.  Just like when you go to a card show and browse tables and bins looking for those rare items and special deals, that’s a bit what shopping on COMC will be like for the near future while we rapidly build our database.  We are optimistic about the speed at which you will see improvement, as our data increased by 10% in one day alone!  Your contributions have been significant.  You’ve made a big difference!

Ways To Make It Better

  • The best way to help populate data is still by playing The Challenges, as the data entered there is normalized. When you assign a team name like New York Yankees to a card, you’re essentially bucketing that card with all the other Yankees cards. Be on the look out for new challenges and prizes!
  • You can submit missing data or corrections for existing data for specific cards in your inventory or for sale on the site:
    • Go to the Inventory Manager in your Dashboard.  When you find missing/incorrect data in your inventory, click the Edit link next to the item description:

Inventory Manager

    • When you find missing data in the Search Results, click on the item and, at the top of the page next to the description, click the Edit link:

Search Results

    • From Edit (from your Search or Inventory), you will get a popup where you can enter data that is missing or needs correction:

Catalog Details

    • Please keep in mind, edits you make to a card are not normalized, meaning if you enter the correction to Teams: “New York Yankees” or “yankees” or “new yyok yankz”, the system won’t bucket it with other Yankees cards. It is still very helpful to use the new Edit feature, as it flags the card as incorrect and lets us know your correction suggestion.  It is just a less efficient process than playing the Challenges and will take more time to correct, as someone here will need to review each correction.
    • Please DO NOT USE the Report Error function, as that is used for reporting ID errors. These will go to the wrong team.

As we said previously, we won’t charge storage fees for the month of April.  We expect to have player and team search functionality fully restored by the end of April.  In May and June, we will be working on more advanced search functionality, such as the type of memorabilia.

Suggested List Price (SLP)

We were hoping to have the beta version of our pricing suggestions live today, but we ran out of time.  We will release it soon and let you know more as it develops.  Once our SLPs are live, contributors who earned at least 20K in Challenge points will receive free SLPs while it is in beta.  In the meantime, we have turned on the “Going Rate” feature.  This feature may help you price your cards by showing you how many like items are on the site and the range at which they are being priced.  While we have previously had quite a few requests for this feature, we have hesitated to turn it on to prevent a race-to-the-bottom with pricing.  We will be monitoring how this feature is being used, and if it remains good for the COMC ecosystem, we may choose to keep it enabled.

Going Rate

Going Rate Feature

The other way to receive helpful pricing information is to click Sales History to the right of the items in your inventory. This activates a popup which tells you the condition, how many are for sale, how many have sold and shipped, and at what price.

Sales History Feature

Sales History Feature

We hope you enjoy COMC while it’s in Card Show mode, and we will continue to let you know as things develop here.  Please continue to contribute to the catalog and let us know what we can do to create the best collecting experience!

Much of Site Unavailable Tomorrow

Hi, COMC Nation,

April 1st is our drop-dead date when we need to transition all the data on COMC.com to our new catalog.  Due to this, starting midnight PST tonight, most of the site will be down for approximately 24 hours.  You will still be able to play The COMC Challenges and access our blog, but you will not have access to your account or any items on the site.  Additionally, once site functionality returns, please be prepared for missing data.

Due to the transition pains, we won’t charge seller storage fees for the month of April.

Please help us smooth the transition by playing The COMC Challenges, and ask your friends to do the same.  This is the best way to help the COMC Community get up and running with the best data as quickly as possible.

Learn more about why we are doing this.

We apologize for the inconvenience.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

What to Expect: Catalog & Price Suggestions

Thank you for contributing to our new sports card catalog!  You are a crucial part of building the most accurate, complete, and data-rich catalog the card-collecting community has ever had.  With just a week away from replacing all the catalog data on COMC.com with our new catalog and price suggestions, we want to let you know what to expect in the upcoming weeks.  We are working within a very tight time frame, there is still a lot of data to compile, and we need your help!

Our Plan of Action

We have tasked our internal experts with compiling difficult-to-find data and the crowd with notating what can easily be determined by looking at the card.  Learn more:

 

This Week

By April 1st we need to swap all of the data on COMC.com with our new catalog.  We will start replacing the data this week.  These changes will be rolled out incrementally, beginning in some less-represented categories (like bowling cards), so any potential issues will affect the fewest cards possible.  From there we will move on to more popular categories, such as basketball and hockey cards.

Due to our extremely tight time frame, the next few weeks will be a bit rocky. Some data will be missing. There will be errors, and there will be many opportunities for improvement.  We ask for your patience, support, and feedback as we work together, building the new catalog.  Learn more:

 

The Weeks To Come

With our new catalog, all cards will have at least a placeholder for data, but some cards will have missing data. You will be able to submit specific pieces of data that are missing or submit corrections for existing data. Our hard-working team will continue to burn the midnight oil creating sets and researching cards. The COMC Challenges will continue to run and add to our database, and this is the best way for you to help us get the most data quickly.  The catalog will be a work in progress.  Within a couple months we should have parity with the old data, and by the end of the year we expect to have better data than we have ever had before.

Price Suggestions

The beta version of our pricing suggestions will go live on April 1st.  At first it will only be available for the most commonly sold cards.  Over the coming months our catalog data will become more complete and the corresponding price suggestions will be extrapolated across less commonly sold items.

Sellers will automatically get access to the pricing suggestions for any items that they originally consigned with us.  To get full access to all pricing suggestions during this beta period, you must earn 20,000 total points in the COMC Challenges.

If you earn 20,000+ total points before the end of March, the “Founding Contributor” badge will be added to your username.

We have a long road ahead of us.  While March 31st is a huge transition, it is by no means the end of our mission.  For a long and detailed analysis of COMC’s ultimate vision for our catalog and price suggestions, we invite you to watch founder and CEO Tim Getsch’s presentation at the 2014 Las Vegas Industry Summit (25 minutes):

Once again, we cannot sufficiently state our gratitude to you, our community, and advocates. Your response has been amazing, and we wouldn’t be here without you!  Thank you for completing the Challenges, submitting suggestions, and participating in our community dialog here on our blog, twitter, and facebook page. This week we begin an epic journey together, and we are so grateful to have you by our side.

We’re Hiring!

Love cards, collectibles, and COMC?  Come work for us!

Check out our job postings for Identification Specialists and Shipping Team Members.

Do you love sports cards and have good computer skills, especially as a gamer?  You could be a great Identification Specialist.

Are you quick on your feet with a great attention to detail?  We would love to have you on our Shipping Team.

If you’re interested, submit an application.  If you have any questions about the positions, contact Bailey at (425) 576-1900, extension 4.

Thank you!

Premium & Basic Processing Services

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.

blog pic-basic vs premium1The Premium Service

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.

Thank You

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!

Cyber Monday: the Last Day!

It’s Cyber Monday, the last day of this big sales weekend! There are more than 1,000 sellers running promotions, and almost everything on the site is on sale.
1969 Topps #260 - Reggie Jackson RC (Rookie Card)
There are a few things to remember to do before midnight tonight!

  • Make your final purchases before the sales end
  • Place your shipping request to still qualify for Free Shipping
  • Spend all Cyber Monday Shopping Spree winnings

Be sure you make the most of the last day of this awesome weekend.

New Customer Service Hours: 9-5 PST M-F

Customer Service Changes

Goodbye to Nathan

It’s a bittersweet day.  Today is our Customer Service Lead Nathan Richards last day with us.  So many of you have gotten to know and love Nathan during his time with us and sent us glowing feedback letting us know.  We will all certainly miss Nathan and wish him well in his future endeavors.

New Team

Not to worry, our Customer Service Team continues to be in good hands.  Account Manager Norbert Strub will be overseeing the team’s success.  We are also thrilled to add to the team, Maurice Smith, who manages our Social Media, and Greg Long, one of our most senior employees from the ID team.  Both Moe and Greg are avid collectors with great personalities who are thrilled to get to know you.

New Hours

ONE CHANGE: Customer Service Hours will now be 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

We have shifted our core Customer Service Hours by an hour later upon review of peak web traffic times.

Please say goodbye to Nathan and welcome the new team in the comments.

Be sure to watch our FacebookTwitter, and Google+ pages.  And, for our friends outside the United States, please join us on our new COMC International Facebook page, and follow our new COMC International Twitter feed.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

We would like to extend a Happy Thanksgiving to our northern neighbors and use the opportunity to offer some autumn news and specials.

COMC will be attending both the Vancouver Sports and Retro Collectibles Show in Langley, BC on November 1st, 2nd, & 3rd and the Sportscard and Memorabilia Expo in Mississauga, ON on November 8th, 9th, & 10th.

We will be accepting drop-off submissions of up to 5000 cards, so you can save on the cost of shipping.  In addition, we are offering our Canadian Fall Promotion from today until November 29, 2013.  Refer your friends to us and if you are a new consigner, let us know and welcome aboard!

This great deal is available for any batch sent to our Canadian office:

COMC Consignment
4311 Canada Way
Burnaby BC  V5G 1J3
Canada

The Special:

  • $0.20 per raw trading or gaming card
  • $0.50 per graded, encased, or jumbo card as well as any other supported collectible
  • User Account not required to be funded at the time of shipment (account still required to be funded before cards are uploaded)
  • Cards in penny sleeves are acceptable
  • Cards in toploaders and cards requiring condition notes subject to $0.05 handling fee per card
  • Maximum 5000 cards per household
  • Minimum 25 cards
  • Cards will be live within 10 weeks of receipt of shipment
  • All shipments must be postmarked no later than Nov 29, 2013
  • Mark your package “Canadian Fall Promotion”
  • Non-Canadians are welcome to use this special but will be responsible for all customs and duties associated with the submission.

COMC Canada also continues to support all regular services at this time in addition to this special except for consignment of comic books & magazines and COMC Mailbox.

Unlock Another Special Offer in time for Black Friday:

By taking advantage of our One Month Processing or our Fall Promotion Special, consigners with 200 or more cards can designate 20% of their submission to our 2-Week Processing at the One Month Processing Rate. This will allow sellers to segregate cards they want on the site for sale in time for Black Friday November 29, 2013.   Simply label 20% of your submission as 2-Week Processing and the remaining 80% as One Month or Canadian Fall Promotion.   Submissions of 2-week processing on its own will be processed as 2-Week processing at it’s regular price of $0.35 per regular sized item.   Cards must arrive (ie. not postmarked) before 11:00am November 14, 2013 at our Canadian Office to allow us to process them before Black Friday.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, and we’ll see you at the show!

Mark Anderson joins COMC

We have a very important announcement today.  The renowned Mark Anderson is joining the COMC team in the newly created position of Seller Advocate!  This is big news for COMC, and the timing couldn’t be better with our upcoming launch of The Vault, our new service for high end items.  There are many reasons why you should be thrilled we now have Mark on our roster.

For the past 12 years, Mark has been the Director of Grading for Beckett Grading Service (BGS), a service well-trusted to handle high end items.  He is a leading authority on card authenticity and grading, and had a significant role in building BGS’s positive reputation for processing, assessing, and caring for high end collectibles.

Having spent over 15 years with Beckett, Mark is well-established within the sports card community. We look forward to his assistance in strengthening our connections and building partnerships within our industry.

Mark also has a strong background as a card, comic, and coin dealer.  We are thrilled to have someone of his caliber help us take these offerings to the next level.

With the launch of The Vault, COMC is stepping up its game.  Whereas, previously we’ve been the niche for buying and selling $1-$100 cards.  As we progress to handling more $1,000 cards, and even $10,000 cards, the game changes.  Mark is another strategic piece in ensuring we hit this one out of the park.

Purposefully, Mark is in the position of Seller Advocate.  He loves our service and has been using us for years. Having been a seller – both on and off COMC – Mark knows the in-and-outs of selling, and will provide another high-level viewpoint on how to best understand and meet the needs of our sellers.  His explicit job will be to help facilitate and implement new opportunities on behalf of our sellers.  In this role, he will be in close contact with you.  Feel free to reach out to him and welcome him to the team at manderson@comc.com.

Even from our early beginnings, when CheckOutMyCards.com was run from our garage, there has always been a drive to bring together the latest technologies and the best people in a mix that would support and revolutionize the sports card industry.  We’ve worked hard to be the safe and easy way to buy and sell collectibles, through our unique and fun online consignment model.  Today, we’ve taken a big step to further establish this reputation.

Mark will be at The National Sports Collectors Convention with us in Chicago and is looking forward to meeting you on our behalf.  Please stop by and say hi.

Live Q & A  with Tim and Mark

On Saturday, August 3rd, from 3 – 4 p.m. CST, during The National, we will be having a live Q & A with Tim and Mark on our Facebook page and Twitter.  Leave a question for Tim and Mark on our Facebook page during that time, or send us a question on Twitter with the hashtag #comcmark, and Tim and Mark will respond and interact with you.

As always, we ask that you stay tuned to our blog for the latest COMC news and be sure to join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

An Apology To Our Most Important Partners

Hello COMC Nation. On Tuesday, July 9th, Beckett book values became no longer available for free on COMC.com. For the last 6 years, Beckett has been gracious in allowing us to provide their data to you, but the time has come where they are no longer able to extend this service through COMC.  Because we realize this tool is valuable to many of our users, we designed the ability to purchase Beckett subscriptions using COMC Store Credit, allowing our users to continue viewing book values while browsing items on the site.  Additionally, we are branching into offering our own COMC sales history as an added benefit.  As always, we are listening to you, your feedback, and truly care about you and the hobby.  While we are a business, we are also collectors, and we are passionate about building an awesome space for buyers, sellers, and flippers.

Learning From Our Mistakes

Through this, we realize an area in which we can improve as a company is communication, and we have taken steps to do that.  In this case, we should have communicated more clearly and repeatedly with you about these impending changes, and we apologize for that oversight.  Going forward, we now have a plan to build into every new site feature when and how we will communicate changes to our customers.  In the haste of making this necessary change to the site, we overlooked ensuring we communicated it well to you. We’re very sorry, will do better next time, and have already altered our system to do so.

Sales History

The loss of free book values on the site is, understandably, going to be a somewhat difficult transition for many users.  However, we are committed to our customers, and are working to provide a tool to aid you in your purchases and sales.  We are in the process of launching a new tool that will display historical sales data of actual sales on our site.  With access to this information, we believe that you will be able to even more accurately see what your cards are worth on the market.

This new tool is in its beta stages and we want your input on this new service.  For the time being, when you click on the asking price of a card, you can spend a History Point to see the historical data of the item.  Right now, this includes how many are currently on the site, how many have sold on COMC, and the highest price the card has ever sold and shipped for.

Why Do I Have To Answer Questions to Get History Points?

One of the first questions we were asked about the Sales History tool was why a user needed to answer questions in order to earn historical data points.  As some of you have guessed, one of the reasons Beckett has decided to no longer provide book values on COMC for free is because our site could be scraped for that data by various programs and that data could be used and sold to other sites.

The Sales History that we provide to our users falls under a similar category.  If the data is simply provided on the site, it can be scraped and that data sold.  In order to protect this data, our initial method is the COMC IQ Test, a sort of CAPTCHA which proves that the user is human and allows them to earn the credit needed to conduct healthy buying and selling practices.

How can we make Sales History better?

We want to make this feature available as quickly as possible and we want it to provide the value our customers need.  To do that, we need the help of our most important partners: you.  Our site exists to encourage users to enjoy collecting, easily sell items, and flip items to make money and have fun.

Please, tell us how we can make our new Sales History tool better for you.  We need to protect this information, but we want it to be more accessible and useful to our users.  What other sorts of information should be displayed?  Do you have a good idea for where the data should be displayed to make it easier for you to utilize it?  Is there an easier better way for us to protect this data while still making it more easily accessible?

Flippers

We understand this change is having a big impact on you, but we are not abandoning you.  Flipping is one of the unique things about COMC, and you are in important part of our ecosystem.  In light of this change, we are brainstorming ways to support you and give you the tools you need to do what you do.   In considering our new Sales History tool, what information and functionality could best help you get the job done?

New Cost

We are committed to making COMC an enjoyable place to buy and sell collectibles online. We always strive to keep costs down for our customers. Some issues, such as the loss of Beckett book values, are out of our control. We designed a way for our users to link their Beckett OPG accounts and purchase subscriptions with Store Credit to provide our users with the option of viewing book values while browsing COMC. We’re working hard to find creative ways to adjust to the loss of book values on the site and your input and ideas are invaluable as we continue to do so.

We Are In This Together

We eagerly look forward to your ideas on how to make this tool easier to use.  Please leave your thoughts in the comments below or send your suggestions to our Customer Service team.    As a final note, if you send us an email within the next 24 hours with the subject “Discussions with Tim,” concerning your thoughts on either the Beckett Subscription feature or our Sales History feature, your feedback may be featured in Tim’s upcoming video.

Most importantly, however, we want to take this opportunity to express our dedication to you: our buyers, sellers, and flippers. COMC is nothing without you. We are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve the experience of buying and selling collectibles for all of our users. Whatever direction we take, or obstacle we face, we will never compromise our commitment to you.

Moving forward, we hope you will continue to give us your input, ideas, and concerns. We’re fortunate to have customers who are as passionate about COMC as we are. Our service is only great because of you and will only get better with you by our side.

Thank you for partnering with us for 6 amazing years.