Upper Deck has unveiled a new revenue-producing online pack buying platform that aims to marry digital cards with physical ones and they’ve brought COMC into the process.
ePack and COMC
The new e-Pack website allows users to instantly purchase and open digital “packs” online. While some of the digital cards are just that—pixels on an electronic screen that can be “collected”—there are some cards revealed through the cyber pack rip that can be shipped to you—or immediately transferred into a COMC.com account and placed for sale on that site.
Once one of those “physical cards” has been transferred to a COMC account, it is treated the same as any item. It can be listed for sale, shipped to you by COMC, which is acting as the fulfillment center for the program, or even submitted directly to a grading company.
In short, you could literally do all of those things within minutes of acquiring the card without ever holding it in your hand.
The program is largely aimed at encouraging fans to open packs for the first time, while also enticing lapsed collectors to get back in to the hobby.
Upper Deck’s flagship brand, Series One Hockey, kicked off the e-pack launch Thursday in conjunction with the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star FanFest in Nashville, TN.
Visitors to the website who register and log-in receive one three-card e-Pack each day at no charge. Standard packs of eight cards cost $3.99 and can be purchased via Paypal or credit card.
Exclusive Content Part of e-Pack Concept
Upper Deck e-packs will have exclusive content not available in standard foil packs including ‘Code to Greatness’ and ‘Instant Impressions’ inserts, as well as foil board base cards and Young Guns parallels featuring Connor McDavid and other top rookies.
There is at least one card per purchased pack that will be considered a physical card, eligible for processing by COMC. There is one of the exclusive insert cards in every ten packs.
Masherah says e-Pack isn’t a print-on-demand program.
“Products are too complicated now to print in multiple waves so print on demand isn’t a possibility,” he stated. “A certain percentage of the product run has to be allocated during production. There is a finite number of packs both in the physical world and the e-pack world. The e-pack products will sell out just like a normal product.”
ePack Opened; Now What?
Once purchased, digital packs immediately become available for opening, just as with apps like Topps BUNT or HUDDLE. The digital images are displayed on-screen with an orange-colored notation indicating which—if any—cards have a “physical” option. In our pack, we pulled one Young Guns card that we were quickly able to transfer to a COMC account and place for sale. The rest were digital only.
“It just didn’t make sense for customers to ship base cards so we created a stacking system that allows the collector to collect the digital base cards and then combine them for an exclusive parallel version,” Masherah told SC Daily. “If the collector is looking for the physical base cards, they can get them at any local hobby shop. All the other cards outside of the base cards are transferable.”
Those cards “have already been printed, allocated to the digital packs, and stored at COMC,” Masherah continued. “They are ready to ship as soon as the collector requests them.”
One drawback is that there is a $4 charge for shipping physical cards, which might be more than the true value of many of them, leaving COMC as the only viable option.
What’s Ahead for e-Pack
So far, there’s no app version for your smart phone, but according to Masherah, that will change.
Upper Deck Series 2 NHL will be the next e-pack product when it arrives in a few weeks. One additional e-Pack release will be announced later this season.
The company says the three e-Pack products will not alter any 2015-16 scheduled hockey card releases available through Upper Deck’s Authorized Distributors, Authorized Internet Retailers and Certified Diamond Dealers.
Hobby Shop Effect
Hobby shop owners who are concerned they may be bypassed by collectors simply spending their dollars directly with Upper Deck online shouldn’t worry, according to Upper Deck.
“We have a lot more features to add going forward and we have to have an open dialog with the hobby shops on how we use this platform to drive people into their stores,” Masherah explained. “We were hyper focused on not converting people just to a digital collecting experience that doesn’t connect to our hobby. You can’t replicate a game used jersey card or autographed card in the digital world. Most importantly, no one is going into shops to buy and sell digital trading cards.”
We’ve reached out to COMC’s Tim Getsch with some questions and will update this story later today.
More information can be found at www.UpperDeckEpack.com.