Friday, November 15, 2013

What I've Learned Selling on COMC

I just started selling some cards on COMC, and I’m pretty happy with my overall experience.  The system is easy to use and conducive to my goals.

BUT, I’ve had a lot of “if I knew then what I know now” moments I’d like to share with both buyers and any prospective sellers out there.  Here are a few things you may or may not have known about using COMC.

1. You have to pay 25 cents per card up front before they will begin processing your submission

In my first submission I sent about 300 cards using the 30-day processing option.  Upon receipt of my cards they e-mailed me a bill for $75.00.  For some reason I'd gotten it in my head that the site took the 25 cents they were charging me out of the proceeds of the sale of the card.  Not so.  You pay that up front.

I get it, too.  It costs them money to process your cards.  They have to scan and catalog and put it in a penny sleeve and keep your inventory correct and up-to-date, so they should be paid up-front.  Makes sense.  No complaints.

2. 30 days means 30 days

If you choose the 30-day option, it will take 30 days to process.  That estimate is dead-on accurate, so don’t expect to be selling cards in 29 days. 

This also means that everyone else has also had that time to submit cards for sale, so while you may not have seen the card you have on their system and think you’ll have the only one available, that may not be the case in a month.  There'll probably be several available by that time, and you will suddenly have to price competitively.  If the value of your card is time-sensitive (such as with anything from a brand-new set or a flash-in-the-pan rookie) eBay may be a better option.

3. They automatically add 25 cents to the price you set

COMC adds 25 cents to the price of every card I sell to be paid by the buyer - that’s on top of the 25 cents they already charged me to process the card.  If I price a card at 50 cents, the actual list price for the buyer is 75 cents.  I hadn't read that before making my submission, so it caught me off guard and pretty much changed my whole selling strategy.

4. Book value goes out the window

And it should, anyway.  This is pure market price, and you’re competing with eBay as well as all those other sellers.  This means you can't send a card just because it's listed in Beckett.  In fact, I've started using COMC as my price guide.  I believe this is the future of the hobby, but that's a whole other post.

5. You pay a storage fee of a penny per month per item priced over $.75

I never read that before submitting cards.  Now I know.

6. Damaged cards could cost you

If they feel your submission is in poor enough condition to mention it to the buyer, they charge you an extra 25 cents.  For vintage cards it looks like they have divided cards into classes to keep vintage sellers from having to constantly pay that fee.  Smart.

7. Price competitively, not stupidly

So let’s talk about competitive pricing.  A lot of the cards I sent were going for much less than I thought they would, and in an effort to be competitive with the other sellers and get the cards I sent in to move, I found myself pricing them for less than what it cost me to list. Not good.

I have since gone back and repriced all my submitted cards at a minimum of $.25 (buyer price $.50).  My cards are not the first that pop up, but I’m not losing money, either.

While I was reviewing my inventory I found that some sellers are constantly reevaluating their pricing to stay just a penny or two cheaper than the next seller so their card pops up first in searches, even if it means they lose money on the deal.  That’s crazy.  I refuse to lose money on this (I spend enough on cards as it is), and I hate this practice; so I’ve started only buying cards that are priced at 50 cents or more.   I realize this may seem foolish to some, but I do it out of principle.

8. Be selective about what you send

When you see a card on COMC listed for less than $.50, it is more than likely costing that seller money to sell you that card.  The way I use the site, I have to sell cards for 50 cents just to break even.  This has made me a lot more selective in what I send them now.

I just sent my second box of cards to COMC for processing.  Every one of them is currently going for $1.00 or more or is not listed for sale at all yet, so this batch should be a lot more successful.

Anyone else with COMC tips, please share them below. 

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