Interview: A Day With CheckOutMyCards (COMC)

As most people who follow the official SportsCardBlog Twitter feed, I recently spent some time up in Seattle at some Red Sox games. Upon deciding that I would base my stay out of the nearby city of Redmond, I decided to shoot a message over to the fine people at CheckOutMyCards (COMC) to determine if I could get some face time over there. Well, the answer was, of course, yes!

COMC

And the time couldn’t have come any more perfect. I wanted to start selling some inserts and lower end cards on there to see how it all works, so I was able to drop off 300 cards (currently processing). It was also during that time in which COMC changed their policy on Beckett prices. I was also able to chat with Jeremy Williams, Strategic Projects Manager for COMC. He invited me out for a hot cuppa’ tea and we chatted…and chatted…and chatted. For about three hours we chatted about the industry, cards, COMC, my blog, and everything in between.

I wanted to spend the time learning more about COMC and how it worked. I wanted to learn some things people may not be aware of or know about COMC. I also wanted a tour, but I wasn’t able to secure that deal due to proprietary issues (I still won’t tell, I promise!) So let’s talk about what I learned:

Beckett Pricing

I want to start, first and foremost, with the ongoing issue with COMC that is on everyone’s mind. Beckett pricing is no longer available for free. Personally, I knew this was a long time coming due to my past involvement with Sports Card Forum. Beckett owns the rights to their pricing and giving it away for free became too big of a price for COMC. With 7 million cards (and almost 2 million different cards), I’d imagine that tag was getting pretty high. In order to financially feasible, it was important to change how that worked. And based on what little I do know about business and what I know about the legal issues behind supplying this information, it was inevitable. However, I do like COMC’s solution of paying for it when you process a card with them and seeing past sales history on the site. Personally, I don’t think Beckett value really matters anyway, but it is a decent gauge. One could argue COMC may have gotten the short end of the deal with the new contract with Beckett, but would you rather have the information or not have it?

As far as their communications went about announcing the changes. They do realize the mistakes they made and are already working on improvements on that front. I think the latest post on their apology was a big step forward for most collectors and they are continuing to try and improve their process.

I also want to mention, technically, purchasing a Beckett subcription is 20% cheaper with COMC credit because you would have to “cash out” to pay for it normally and get that 20% taken off. Just a thought.

New Ideas

One of the big things I was interested in was “What’s next for COMC?” I got a large number of answers. COMC has continued its evolution as quickly as Tim can churn out the programming for what he wants to implement. From what I can see, he has the vision for a lot of things and his staff really supports his work. So what is coming up?

Base cards - While I can’t go into much detail, as I couldn’t get much detail myself, COMC is working on a way to buy/sell base cards as effectively, efficiently, and most importantly cheaply as possible. Set builders can start rejoicing now.

Trading – I’ve made this apparent in the past that I would love to see this implemented. Tim has the same thoughts as well. Trading, at some point, may be implemented into COMC. It all depends on how the service works, how tough it is to code, and all that other fun stuff you have to strategize about. Imagine the possibilities of a 5 person trade or trading your cards online where you can see just about everything about the card you want, including pictures. Yes!

Shipping - One of the things COMC is trying to improve on is how the product gets to them and how they get it back to you with minimum fees. As far as I was told, and I fully believe them, COMC makes $0 on shipping. In fact, they have in the past lost money on shipping. In order to increase survivability of COMC, they have tried to create new ways to ship to them and receive your cards. Basically, it is their new Mailbox program on steroids. COMC is working on teaming up with local card shops, card shows, and other trusted individuals to ship items for you up to Redmond, and back to you. Imagine your own little mailbox at your favorite card shop or card show. It will save you some good money on shipping!

Final Thoughts

Everything about COMC is revolving around the customer, whether you choose to drink the Kool-Aid or not. You can tell by their constant innovations on the site, trying new ideas, taking customers thoughts on ideas to improve the site and the hobby, a lot of things. Me? I’m drinking the Kool-Aid as I firmly believe they are looking out for the customer first. I thought that before my meeting, and my meeting reaffirmed those beliefs.

Is it your best option for selling? It depends on what you are selling and why you are selling it. Quick flip on a hot player on cards that just came out yesterday? Yeah, might not be the best for you right now. But you know what? They know that and are working on ways to help you get the maximum amount for your card. The entire staff has all the faith in the world in Tim and the company, and from talking to Jeremy I can see why. Tim is meticulous and plans everything. Every contingency, every thought, every piece of information that comes to mind is thought through. The hobby needs someone like him to be a visionary of the future.

One of the last questions I was asked is “Where do I see the hobby going in the future?” My answer? I have no clue. And from the clues I see today coming from the depths of the hobby, I’m not entirely optimistic. But I think Tim, Jeremy, and the rest of the COMC staff do have a clue and they want to be the innovators who change the hobby for good.

Some fun facts:

- Up to over 50 employees!

- Want to know why items get shipped so efficiently? They are right next to a USPS warehouse! (Planned when new warehouse was bought.)

- The company with the largest number of SKUs in the world! (Unverified, but likely.)

Open Letter (Idea) to CheckOutMyCards (COMC)

I’ve had these thoughts for quite some time. CheckOutMyCards has been a valuable asset to the hobby and is a great change in pace compared other sites out there to buy and sell cards. It reaches a huge audience and provides them one of the best opportunities to buy and sell sports cards and other items.

But why stop at buying and selling? Why not get back to what sports cards was all about? The trading. Sadly, I don’t have the direct contact information for Tim Getsch over at COMC. At least, I don’t think I do. So here is my open letter to CheckOutMyCards.

Tim,

Has COMC ever thought about including a trade option to the website? In 2011, Topps had a fabulous promotion where you unlocked cards and were able to trade them with other users without physically having the card themselves. I thought that was a fantastic idea even before that creation and would make a great website or business.

Sadly, I do not have the resources to create such a venture, nor the experience with software programming. But I do love the hobby. I think a trade function on COMC, or a sister-site, would be a great addition to the hobby and would provide another source of income for the business. Charging to list cards and ship cards would continue, but you could also charge $0.XX amount per trade as well. Essentially you can do this now by agreeing to buy a card from someone else and having them a buy a card from you for the same price. Why not make it easier to trade? Buyers and sellers are going to naturally want to find a way to improve their inventory, and besides buying low, selling high, or buying additional cards outside of COMC, being able to trade with another user of the site would provide them that opportunity.

It also gets down to what the basics of trading cards were all about, trading. I’m not talking about revolutionizing one of the greatest buy/sell sites that has been created. I’m talking about one more dimension to the product that would not only bring in MORE users, but allow the current users to do more with their inventories. Just my two cents. I’d love to see that option added.

Sincerely,

SCB

Again, I’m not changing the wheel or anything here. But making it easier for collectors and people in the marketplace move their cards in an easier fashion. With their current infrastructure, how difficult can it be?

I would love to take all of my traders, send them to COMC, put a price on them in case others want to buy them, but also have the opportunity to trade for some cards I do collect and pay to have them sent back to me. It would be, hands down, the safest place on the internet to trade cards.

It’s worth a thought, isn’t it? What do you think?

CheckOutMyCards.com Review (Buying)

Well I finally joined the rest of the trading card community and started buying some singles off of CheckOutMyCards.com. I saw a bunch of singles that I wanted on there and saw the shipping and thought, why not?

So I bought 21 cards off of there and had them shipped for just over $5 for shipping. That’s right, 21 cards for $5 shipping. If I bought those individually off of eBay, well just multiply 21 by about $2..or more.

I chose not to have any of them in toploaders and had them shipped that way, but was very surprised on the quality of shipping. I received all 21 cards in a large team bag with a toploaded card on each end. All cards arrived in perfect condition.

I guess I’ll start sharing some of my haul with the two game used jersey cards I picked up in the lot.

The first card I picked up was a 2010 Topps Update All-Star Stitches game used jersey card of Jon Lester. This one was a no-brainer as Jon Lester is my favorite baseball player. It’s also a no-brainer because you know exactly when the jersey was used, for the most part. I also love the design with the stars on the left.

The second card I picked up was a 2001 Private Stock Game Gear game used jersey card of Bill Romanowski. When I first started watching the NFL, my favorite team was always the team that Romo played for. Bill Romanowski went to Rockville High School, the same school as myself so I wanted to always cheer him on. You may have even seen me on camera in my Romanowski Broncos jersey. I will always be a huge Romanowski fan and I was happy to see him actually have a game used card. Now I need to find an autograph of him…

I’ll post some more cards when I get a chance, but this is a nice start.

For the record, I highly recommend CheckOutMyCards.com and have some $20 credits for first time sellers to give away, just let me know if you want one. (I should have more coming in soon) My next step is to try selling on there.