A lot has happened since my last check in. January turned out to be a pretty good month. Many people reported having their best month ever. Also, on Friday night we crossed 10 million items actively for sale. This is quite an accomplishment. Collectively we continue to set records for the largest variety of trading cards offered under one physical roof. Way to go COMC Nation!
Tim’s Time Off
Tim with childhood best friend Pete
I am glad for everything positive that happened while I was gone. I generally don’t like to publicize when I take vacations, but that wasn’t really an issue in 2014 because I didn’t take any. Well, technically I headed back to Minnesota on Christmas eve 2014 to start my first vacation in more than a year.
All 5 of Tim’s nieces and nephews
After two weeks in Minnesota and Colorado, I came back to Seattle with a “gift” from my nieces and nephews. Unfortunately, it was the kind of gift that kept me bedridden for a week.
At this point I was 3 weeks behind on email. I spent most of the next week taking care of stuff at the office, and then I had another one week business/personal trip.
Tim’s brother Terry playing a recently restored pinball machine from their childhood
I went to Georgia to visit my brother and his wife for the first time in a couple years, and I took a little detour to catch an NBA game. This is a necessity since Seattle lost the Sonics.
Tim at an NBA game
Needless to say, I am still a bit behind on email and a few other things.
Now to give you an update on the top requests that our customer service team has been receiving.
Around Christmas, we gave you a sneak peak of COMC Auctions. Many of you have been curious when and how we will roll them out to the public. We are still wrapping up some loose ends to make sure we are doing everything the correct way. This will take at least another couple months. We may selectively launch some more test auctions in the meantime. Once we do start allowing you to run your own auctions, we will gradually roll it out. For example, there will be a limit to the number of auctions each user can run. We don’t want to flood the market with more auctions than it can handle. As we see how the market is responding to auctions, we will adjust the limits. The Auctions feature is just one of several big improvements we are working on this year.
There are two known issues on the website that we are tracking down right now. Both issues appear to have been introduced when we made some upgrades just before Black Friday. The first issue is causing some computers to sporadically get new shopping carts. If this happens to you, please contact us, and we can restore the items in your cart. We have not yet found a consistent way to reproduce the problem, but we have added some code to help us track it down. The second issue is a timeout error when trying to search from the Inventory Manager section of the website. This appears to be a regression from the database upgrade we made. We are searching for a workaround to this issue. Until then, you might be able to work around this issue by searching your port, and editing prices from the item details page. This is not ideal, but it might work for some of you.
Response Times on Escalations
Um… Yes. I was on vacation. I am back now. If you are still waiting for a response to something, please contact us again, and we will make sure you get a response more quickly.
Time to Print Checks
In the past when the company was smaller, I processed all checks myself as the requests came in, and there was plenty of time for them to be delivered within 2 weeks of the cash-out request. As we’ve grown, this now goes through our accounting system that is structured around the print date rather than the delivery date. While the new system is a much better process internally and has freed me to spend more of my time on things you really care about, unfortunately, it can sometimes take a bit more time. We will be updating the website to reflect that checks will be mailed within 10 business days of the cash-out request.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to improve our catalog. Even though it has room for improvement, many people have still been able to post their best months ever. At this point we are working on the long tail. We estimate that 96.5% of the data has been entered, and we still have more to clean up. We ran some good challenges in December to help us clean up the data, but I haven’t incorporated the results into the catalog yet because of my time off. I expect to get that done in the next few weeks.
Some people have asked why we have done work on other areas of the site when the catalog is not done yet. The short answer is that we have limited resources, and the catalog will never be “done.” Also, not everyone in the company has the necessary skills to contribute to the catalog. In any case, we expect to always invest in improving the catalog. Sometimes I may choose to make unrelated improvements to the site because they have potential to increase our available resources. This will in turn allow me to have more resources to put back in the catalog. I fully expect our catalog to be superior to any other trading card catalog in the near future. The amount of resources we have available will determine how near that future might be.
2014 was by far our most challenging year. We basically had to re-invent ourselves. In doing so, I had to set the course for COMC and rally the troops to go there. While we did not accomplish every goal we set out to hit, we are now stronger than ever. As Confucius said, “If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK.”
Now for 2015 I want to focus on under-promising and over-delivering. We still have another big year ahead of us, but we don’t have all of the time crunches of 2014. 2015 is going to be an exciting year. I look forward to the next phase of the COMC journey.