Should you be online? – By Terri Rehkop of Press Pass, Inc

This is an excellent article written by Terri Rehkop, who is the Director of Customer Relations at Press Pass, Inc.  It discusses how being online can really help your business, specifically within the trading card industry.

The trading card industry is fascinating. It’s one of the few industries left that is still resistant to the idea that change and new technology can make a business more efficient and effective. Granted, many advancements have made doing business more challenging, but I believe that’s because of how retailers and distributors are implementing these changes, not because the changes themselves are bad.

I have been asked more than once by people in the industry if they should be on the Internet. I have danced around the question in the past because of the negative implications of the question. However, if I were asked that today, I would answer yes. The key objective of any business is to reach its customers. If a big percentage of your customers are on the Internet, how can you justify not being there yourself? As a business, you have to make your decisions based on how you can make it easier for your customers to do business with you. Anything else is counterproductive.

Of course, the question of whether or not you should be on the Internet is driven by price. Early adopters in the trading card industry have made ripples because everything they do is driven by being the lowest cost option for customers. While this strategy can give a short-term bump to profits, over time it erodes both the product value (extremely important for everyone in the trading card industry) and the value your business provides to its customers.

By competing solely on price, you guarantee that your customer will look around before making a purchase. If they find a better deal elsewhere, they will buy elsewhere and you have lost a sale. However, if you look at the Internet and your overall business strategy as a way to build loyalty with your customers, you can go a long way toward ensuring that you keep the largest share of your customers’ trading card spending.

Everyone needs to take a hard look at their business and decide if they are doing everything they can to make their customers loyal to them. Are you talking to them on a regular basis? Are you tracking their preferences and what products they buy? Are you making sure it’s as easy as clicking a mouse to do business with you? All of these things are accomplished by an Internet presence. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated or fancy.

Just think about the companies you do business with. What do you like best? What do you not like? Take that information and apply it to your business. The trading card industry is definitely unique…running a customer-centric business is not.

I would challenge everyone in this industry to make their New Year’s resolution finding ways to make their businesses work harder for their customers instead of the other way around. The more you do for your customers, the more likely they are to resist spending their money elsewhere.

Flashback Product of the Week: 1998 Pacific Online Baseball

When computers and the internet became really popular during the mid 90’s, it didn’t take long for card manufacturers to jump on the wagon and try to create a trading card product that had something to do with the internet.  In 1998 Pacific created a product called Pacific Online Baseball.  Many cards in the set feature a white strip at the top containing a very large URL (that I’m sure doesn’t exist anymore) to a website about the player and another website containing information about the team.  I think its funny to read some of the phrases on the front of the box that use terms you rarely hear today such as “Surf The Net”.  I believe that they made this product for football too, but it didn’t catch on very well.  Before you had Topps Town cards, The Hobby had stuff like this.  Boxes can be picked up for $20.00 to $30.00 and there really aren’t any major hits to look for.



Photoshop Redemption Card Deception

After reading this, I bet you’ll never want to purchase a redemption card over the internet again.  I have talked to you about people using Photoshop to “enhance” the appearence of their cards, but this time I would like to talk about how people use Photoshop to travel back in time with their redemption cards.  Lets say you pull out a redemption card like the one pictured below.

Then you decide to scratch off the redemption to see what autographed card you are due to receive.

You find out its an autograph of a rookie that you have never heard of.  You wish you could go back in time and never have scratched it off.  Well, with Photoshop some sellers have discovered time travel.  People will scan the scratched card into Photoshop and “correct” the scratched part using the image of another unscratched redemption card.  Below is a “fixed”  version of the scratched off card.  People will put them up for sale making the buyers think it is unsctached.  Therefore, the seller gets money for the unsctached card, and get the card from the company since they already redeemed it.

I know people will read this and say I’m promoting sellers to do this, but if I wouldn’t show collectors this they would not know about it.  I wrote this to help protect potential bidders from falling victim to a scam.  Online redemptions are good for collectors because you don’t have to mail them in, but if you purchase one over the internet you could get stuck in a mess like this.  The mail-in redemption cards that most companies are getting rid of could protect you from a scam.  There are pros and cons on each side of the situation.   

This week’s eTopps cards are……………

Here are this week’s eTopps cards:

Greg Smith

Alex Rodriguez

Evan Longoria

Nate McLouth