Preparing for Growth: Simplifying Fees

We have learned a lot from our first five years, and in a couple weeks we plan to launch a simplified fee structure. One of the primary goals is to make the site easier to understand as we begin to launch new services.

We announced last year that we purchased the domain COMC.com, and that we would eventually branch out into new markets (e.g. comics, coins, memorabilia etc.). One of the major concerns was that the fee structure could get extremely complicated if we didn’t make some fundamental changes. So here is our core strategy.

Simplified the Fees For Buyers

We have about 2,000 sellers and 40,000 buyers. Buyers outnumber sellers 20 to 1. The only fees that buyers need to be aware of are shipping fees. By simplifying our shipping fees, we can make the site easier for 95% of our users. To accomplish this goal, we will be integrating the per-item shipping & handling fee into the published asking price of an item.

Examples: A normal trading card where a seller is asking $0.75 would be listed for buyers at $1.00 and a graded card with an asking price of $24 would be listed for $25.

Simplified Shipping & Handling
All shipping services offered with one flat rate price regardless of the number of items shipped.

Standard: $2.99, 3-5 days to package + USPS First Class Mail
Rapid: $4.99, 1 day to package + USPS First Class Mail
Priority: $7.99, 1 day to package + USPS Priority Mail
Express: $29.99, packaged same day + USPS Express Mail
Local Pickup: FREE (Coming soon to a card shop near you. More details will be released over the coming year.)

Shipping Guarantee
We will package your order and hand it off to the USPS within the specified time frame or we will refund the shipping fee.

How does this shipping change affect purchased items that haven’t shipped yet?
We will track when the per-item S&H fees have been paid. This is like purchasing a forever stamp. Items that were purchased before these changes will still need to pay the per-item S&H fee. This may be a little confusing until these grandfathered items get cleared out of the system. We will try to make this understandable, but it will soon become a non-issue. The Manage Inventory and My Shipments pages will display the corresponding per-item S&H fee.

How does this shipping change affect sellers?
These changes will not require any effort from sellers. When we release this update, all published prices will be inflated by our per-item S&H fee. When sellers set asking prices we will make it easy to specify how much they want for an item or to specify how much they want the item listed for. If a seller is trying to relist (aka flip) an item which already has S&H paid, the asking price will be the same as the list price, and the seller will get the full list price upon sale because the per-item S&H was already paid.

Original owners that want to have some items returned will still have to pay some per-item S&H, but it will be reduced.

Simplified Fees for Sellers

  • 3 simple processing services
    One Month, One Week & One Day. See below for more details. No more Special Sized service. All services can have a mix of raw trading cards and other items.
  • $3 batch fee gone
    Replaced with a simple minimum processing fee
  • Reduced storage fees
    Starting September 1st we will offer free storage for all items for sale at $0.75 or less. This jumps up to $2.50 if you opt in to the $50/month account upgrade. This will reduce what we charge for storage fees by an average at least 30%.
  • Free premium options
    Sellers will no longer have to pay for an account upgrade to set the minimum offer amount, minimum offer percentage, or auto-accept offer percentage.
  • No “fine print” fees
    Everything is simplified into the processing fees listed below.

Simplified Processing Fees for Sellers

All the fine print is gone. This is all you need to know.

One Month Processing
$0.25 / Card for raw trading cards
$0.50 / Item for all other supported collectibles
$5.00 Minimum processing fee per submission

One Week Processing
$0.50 / Card for raw trading cards
$0.75 / Item for all other supported collectibles
$5.00 Minimum processing fee per submission

One Day Processing
$1.00 / Card for raw trading cards
$1.00 / Item for all other supported collectibles
$5.00 Minimum processing fee per submission

Condition Notes
$0.05 for “has flaws” or “vintage wear” condition notes
$0.25 for detailed condition notes or separate COAs

Processing Guarantee
If we don’t deposit your items into your account by 11:59 PM PST on the due date, we will discount the processing fees by 50%.

Raw Trading Cards
Raw trading cards are any trading cards that meet the following specifications

  • Meets the “standard size” requirements
  • They must be raw or in penny sleeves
  • No toploaders or other hard cases
  • No graded or encased cards

If trading cards do not meet these requirements, they will be treated as “all other supported collectibles”.

All Other Supported Collectibles
You can use our service for any of the following.

  • Collectible trading cards that don’t meet the “raw trading cards” requirements
  • Collectible poker chips (e.g. 2005-06 Topps NBA Collector Chips)
  • Collectible coins (e.g. 1964 Topps Coins)
  • Items on our Beta Test list that will be published in a week or so (e.g. Comics, Coins…)

Feedback Wanted Disclaimer
We want your feedback, but please keep in mind the big picture. Yes, some of the fees are going up slightly, and many are coming down significantly or are completely eliminated. As you analyze these fee changes, please keep in mind that we need all of the fees to work together to make sure the system is sustainable and simple.

For example, today the 4 week processing service costs $103 for 500 cards. This is currently the cheapest way to get cards on the site. Soon the cheapest way to get 500 cards listed will be $125, but we are also decreasing the average storage fees by 30% by allowing you to list cards at $0.75 or less for free and $2.50 or less for free if you pay the $50/month membership. It should also be noted that we are reducing the cost of listing 50 graded, encased or jumbo cards from more than $40 to only $25, and we are cutting the cost of next day processing in half.

We are really excited about expanding into so many new markets, and these fee simplification are a critical, strategic step towards our future offerings. You are invited to help us shape these services.

3 Strike Limit on Offers

Today we implemented a new policy to help cut down on unwanted offers. We can tweak the details, but here is now the system currently works.

When you want to make an offer to a particular seller we look at your offer history over the past 90 days. Specifically, we look at all of your offers that the seller has rejected. Then we look at each item in those rejected offers. We consider a counter offer different from an offer that is explicitly rejected.

If you are about to make a new offer that includes an item that has been in 3 or more rejected offers, we will display 3 strikes just beneath the Remove link for that item, and we will prevent your offer from going through until that item has been removed from the offer. See the picture below for an example.

Finalized Shipping & Processing Changes

I have to give a big thanks to the Blowout Cards forum for helping us iron out the details of the changes we are making to our shipping and processing services.

The proposed changes that we mentioned in the last bog post were simply too complicated and they didn’t address some of the concerns of many buyers and sellers. We have listened to the feedback, and we have used the Blowout Cards forum to vet the updated proposal. Here is the plan we expect to go live with on March 31st.

Processing Changes

Processing Status
Starting March 31st, we will add a new section to your dashboard. This section will list the status of any of your shipments that we are currently processing. This will display what stage number in our processing pipeline your transaction is in. This will give you some idea about how close your cards are to making it onto the site. This will also show the due date and how much of your funds are being reserved to cover the processing fees. We will not assign a guaranteed due date until your account has enough funds to cover the processing fees. Once the processing is done and the cards have been added to your account, we will charge your account the exact processing fee.

Budget Processing
The budget processing service which offered no guaranteed due dates is being suspended because our backlog is approaching 4 months, and we can’t afford to hire enough people to satisfy the exponentially growing demand at only $0.10/card.

Standard Processing
This is a new service level. There are no restrictions on the number of cards you send at a time or what kind of cards you send. We simply guarantee 8 weeks or you will only be charged $0.10/card.
* $0.15/card
* 8 weeks guaranteed or it is $0.10/card

Priority Processing
* $0.25/card
* 3 weeks guaranteed or it is $0.15/card

Express Processing
* $0.50/card
* 1 week guaranteed or it is $.25/card

Shipping Changes

Standard Shipping
– Takes 3-5 business days to package orders
– Packages shipped via USPS 1st class
– $3 for first card
– $0.25 for each of the next 99 cards
– $0.15 for each card after 100 cards
– $1 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– No extra fee for international orders
– Sellers Only: $25 max shipping fee for cards being returned

Priority Shipping
– Takes 2 business days to package orders
– Packages shipped via USPS Priority Mail
– $8 for first card
– $0.35 for each additional card
– $1.50 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– $10 extra for international orders

Express Shipping
– Orders are packaged the next business day
– Packages shipped via USPS Express Mail
– $25 for first card
– $0.50 for each additional card
– $2 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– $10 extra for international orders

Minor Processing & Shipping Changes

Outdated

See the Finalized Processing & Shipping Changes post

Shipping Changes

Starting March 31st, we plan to make the following changes to our shipping fees. This change will impact less than 5% off the shipment requests we receive, and it many cases we are reducing the cost of our expedited services.

Just like with our processing service for putting cards on our site, we will have three service levels for shipping cards from our warehouse. We are keeping our budget shipping option as cheap as possible, but because the demand for our service is so high, we have to extend the expected time to package orders with this option to 3-5 days. If you need your cards more quickly, you will need to choose one of the expedited options. Fortunately, the priority and express options are usually less expensive than they used to be.

Budget Shipping
– Takes 3-5 business days to package orders
– Packages shipped via USPS 1st class
– $3 for first card
– $0.25 for each of the next 99 cards
– $0.15 for each card after 100 cards
– Only $0.10 per card if you were the original owner of the card and you just want it shipped back
– $1 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– No extra fee for international orders

Added 3/9: If you are a seller on the site and want to have a large number of your cards shipped back to you, please contact us, and we can offer return shipping for only $25.

Priority Shipping
– Takes 2 business days to package orders
– Packages shipped via USPS Priority Mail
– $8 for first card
– $0.35 for each additional card
– $1.50 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– $10 extra for international orders

Express Shipping
– Orders are packaged the next business day
– Packages shipped via USPS Express Mail
– $25 for first card
– $0.50 for each additional card
– $2 extra for graded, encased, or jumbo cards
– $10 extra for international orders

$25 Max Shipping Fee Gone
This shipping loophole is being removed. Make sure to place or order or shipment request by midnight on March 30th to receive the old shipping fees. This loophole was originally intended as a safeguard for new sellers so that they could feel safe using our service with the knowledge that their cards could all be returned for no more than $25. We now have more than 400 sellers, and this loophole was only ever used a few times. However, this is now being used nearly every day by one or more buyers, and in some cases it is costing us well more than $100 in labor costs to package these large orders. Rather than doing this work for free, we now offer a reduced shipping fee of $0.15 per card after the first 100 cards. Sellers can get their cards back for only $0.10 per card.

Added 3/9: If you are a seller on the site and want to have a large number of your cards shipped back to you, please contact us, and we can offer return shipping for only $25.

Budget Processing Service Changes

Starting March 31st, we plan to make the following minor changes to our budget processing services. Packages must be postmarked on or before March 30th in order to not be subject to these changes.

Limit on Game Used & Autographed Cards
Submissions with 10 or more game used or autographed cards must use our priority or express services unless the 10 or more cards are all from the same set. We will assume the priority service is desired if express is not specified. Please proactively separate your game used and autographed cards and label them for either our priority or express service if you don’t want your entire submission to be bumped up to priority processing.

This change is due to the following factors.
– Game used and autographed cards take significantly longer to look up in Beckett. It is simply too costly for us to process these cards at the budget processing rate.
– These cards tend to be more valuable cards, and it is good to get them on the site more quickly.

Store Credit Not Accepted
You must pay for the budget processing service with a check, money order, or cash at the time you submit the cards. We will no longer accept store credit as payment for our budget service. If no payment is included with the cards, the priority processing will be assumed.

We will continue to accept store credit as payment for priority or express processing, but we may extend your guaranteed due date if you don’t have sufficient store credit in your account when the cards are received. Cards will not be added to your account if there is not sufficient store credit when the processing has been completed.

This change is due to the following factors.
– We have a 2+ month backlog of cards waiting to go on the site. In many cases we have been paying for a significant portion of the labor expenses months before people are either earning or purchasing the store credit to cover their processing expenses.
– Our budget processing service is insanely cheap, but our backlog is getting extremely large. We want to encourage people to use our priority service so that we can afford to hire and train more employees.

Getting your cards on the site faster

As you may have noticed the demand for our services is starting to skyrocket.

In an attempt to help satisfy as many people as possible, we are going to start making some changes to help speed up the process of get cards onto the site. Below are a couple things you can do to help us out.

No Toploaders
In order to get our high quality scans of every card we need to remove them from the holders they come in. Penny sleeves aren’t too bad, but toploaders and other hard cases take way too long. The time we spend removing cards from toploaders or screwdowns could be spent getting more cards on the site. To help keep the pipeline from backing up we are now going to charge $0.05 extra for each card that needs to be removed from a toploader or hard case.

The fees page and the instructions for how to ship to us have been updated to reflect this change.

Group your cards by sport
You can also help us speed up the process by keeping cards from the same sport next to each other. Having the cards all mixed up causes it to take longer to identify them.