Upper Deck releases 2015-16 Series 2 Hockey on Thursday at hobby shops across North America but the company’s e-Pack website won’t offer cards for at least another month.
Marketing Manager Chris Carlin says that’s because the company wants to give those brick-and-mortar shops first crack at the product before online consumers.
Announced in January, e-Pack offers free three-card packs of Series One hockey cards as well as the option to purchase more packs and boxes and “open” them online. While the majority of the “cards” remain digital, purchased packs usually contain at least one card that has a physical element and can be moved to COMC.com where it can be shipped or listed for sale. Accumulated quantities of digital cards can also be swapped for exclusive physical cards.
“Our goal with the program has always been to grow the hobby, and based on responses from fans participating in regions devoid of hobby shops, it appears to be working,” Carlin wrote in an email. “With the ease of use to give fans the opportunity to open packs anytime, anywhere, we believe we can create more collectors to stimulate and grow the hockey collectibles category.”
Upper Deck plans to offer hobby shops a sales window before pushing any product to e-Pack. Carlin says the earliest 2015-16 NHL Upper Deck Series Two will be available on the e-Pack platform will be March 17, four weeks after their hobby shop release and nearly three weeks after the cards will be available in retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. “We will continue to monitor the market however to determine the best time for launch, but it will not happen before that date,” Carlin stated.
Upper Deck plans to meet with shop owners and other industry partners next week to determine how to grow the new collector base they believe e-Pack is providing.
Carlin wouldn’t say how many ePacks have been distributed or purchased online. “All I can share is that the total amount of e-Packs produced for UD1 are significantly less than the physical counterpart and we expect the e-Pack release will sell out.”
Only a few NHL trading card products will be made available through ePack between now and the end of the season.