Upper Deck’s new ePack concept generated a lot of attention last week–and not just among hockey card collectors. The program allows users to buy and open “packs” online instantly, at least one of which will be a physical card that can be shipped to you or immediately placed for sale on COMC.com. The others can be accumulated and then swapped for exclusive physical cards. Free three-card Series 1 packs are available each day to anyone who visits the website. Upper Deck will place more products on the website as they are released.
Some collectors believe the move could signal the start of a shift in buying habits and how cards are distributed from manufacturers to collectors, although it’s far too early to say for certain.
The partnership does mark a major industry move for COMC which has become a widely used portal for collectors buying and consigning their own cards but now enters into a direct distribution role with a card manufacturer and gains the opportunity to market its services to more collectors.
We included some comments from Upper Deck President Jason Masherah in last week’s story. Now, COMC’s Tim Getsch answers a few questions about what it all means for his company.
What is COMC’s take on how it will benefit from the partnership with Upper Deck? I assume new users would be part of the equation?
TG: We are very excited about the new ePack service. It will be good for the entire hobby. Jason Masherah and Upper Deck have just raised the bar for what is possible with trading cards. This will reach a new audience and engage a new generation of collectors. COMC will definitely benefit from the influx of new users, but this is also a big step towards making COMC a household name. This builds trust in COMC and helps people be willing to try our consignment service. It also helps COMC stay top-of-mind when people are thinking of where to buy singles for their collections.
Will COMC be handling the shipping of ePack cards?
This is something new for COMC. How did it come about, how much effort was involved in working this plan out or was it simpler than we might think? What were your questions going in and how were they answered?
TG: We have been working with Upper Deck for more than a year on this project. We learned how trading cards are manufactured, and we worked very closely with Upper Deck to design new processing services that cater to their needs. We developed new procedures, software, and even storage mechanisms. The nature of processing and fulfilling ePack cards is quite different from our typical random assortment of consigned items. There were different factors that we needed to optimize for and there were different advantages that we were able to leverage.
I wouldn’t classify this project as easy or simple, and it is not over. We are still making adaptations and improvements as we study usage patterns. However, solving technical questions or challenges is what we do all the time. We are used to innovating. The biggest question that is yet to be answered is how fast this will take off and what kind of growth we need to prepare for.
COMC was built upon the idea of taking some of the hassle out of buying/selling for collectors and dealers. Does this new partnership signal that his concept may expand beyond individuals and involve larger hobby entities at some point soon? Can you tell us if there are other concepts in the works for the immediate future?
TG: This is a great question. We have historically focused on building a healthy consignor base of thousands of collectors and dealers rather than catering to just a few mega sellers. I did not build COMC because I saw some opportunity to make a quick buck. Instead, I saw an opportunity to improve the collecting experience so that I could share my childhood passion with others. This is reflected in our mission statement “Optimize Enjoyment: Maximize what you care about; minimize what you don’t.”
Upper Deck’s ePack service is perfectly in alignment with our goals and purpose. It is improving the collecting experience and making it even safer and easier for people to buy and sell cards. The industry will grow because of this, and we are working with Upper Deck to help drive this new audience to the local hobby store where their passion for the hobby can continue to grow.