Hi there! By the time you're reading this, I've returned from Grand Prix Minneapolis alive and intact. As I mentioned in last week's article, this column will be discussing several strategies you can employ as a player to get the most value out of your cards.
Let's say, for example, that you opened a Hazoret the Fervent at your local draft this past week. As one of the integral cards of the Pro Tour Hour of Devastation Top 8 decklists, that card recently jumped in price from $6 to $20 over the course of 48 hours. As of the Monday following the Pro Tour, Hazoret is still sitting as the most expensive single card in Amonkhet, and is staying strong in the top five best-selling cards. There's a lot of demand for this card and you probably want to capitalize on that opportunity, especially if you're not using it in a deck. This week, I'm here to start teaching you how to list and sell that card as a marketplace Seller on TCGplayer.com.
As a player, you have multiple options available if you're trying to sell cards. So why did I personally choose TCGplayer as my primary selling platform? Why should you? I generally prefer an efficient user interface and the ease of listing items. As someone who's not the most tech-savvy, the simplicity of setting up an account was a significant boon to the platform. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete the initial process, and only a few more to finalize the banking information. In addition, the quality and response time of their customer service team convinced me that they were easier to start selling and listing with.
To elaborate on the customer service front, I appreciate that TCGplayer will resolve disputes between the buyer and seller more rationally than other similar platforms. There are frequent worries from the seller side about being "scammed" out of cards if the buyer claims that they weren't received, especially if the seller does not ship with tracking. Because the average cost of a PayPal shipping label is $2.61, it doesn't make logistical sense to ship cheaper cards in a tracked bubble mailer if you want to get consistent sales. In my experience, TCGplayers' fraud detection has helped out multiple times in a situation where the buyer claimed a card wasn't received. I feel safer sending small dollar cards in a plain white envelope (without tracking), knowing that my seller platform is actively working to make sure that those who try to game the system are kept under wraps.
If you're going to be selling cards, I'm going to make an assumption that you care how much money you get out of them. While it would be nice if we could sell that Hazoret for the $13.50 market price and receive 100% of that $13.50, that's not realistic anywhere. It's not terribly difficult for most players with an active local store scene to be able to trade across at Market Price, but finding a buyer who is willing to pay cash can sometimes be difficult.
When you sell on TCGplayer, you open up the visibility of your store to thousands of viewers every day. If you price your cards competitively and choose the right cards to list, you'll still be making enough of a percentage for it to be worth your time and effort versus hoping you'll find someone who wants to trade for it at full value. That said, let's briefly skim over what the fee structure for selling on TCGplayer looks like.
Okay. So that's a lot of math and text. In short, you're looking at around 12-13 percent of the total value of the card being taken up by fees, not including shipping. I'd like to break it down a little bit more than that, but I personally work better with an example. Here's a screenshot of a recent sale I had (with all relevant information about the buyer removed, of course)
Okay, so let's examine this sale; specifically the transaction details and the products sold. I had listed two Titania, Protector of Argoth at $4.98 apiece, so that I would go just below the next lowest seller who had them listed at $4.99. Because of the way listings are presented on the storefront, buyers are much more likely to purchase the cheapest available copy. Even a difference of a single penny can cause someone to select your copies over the next cheapest listing, so competitive pricing gives you a large advantage. In fact, you probably have some experience with that phenomenon from the other side of the looking glass.
After the 12.75%+$.30 fee, I'm out $1.57 for the total order prior to my shipping costs. With the cost of a stamp being $.47 and the other shipping materials (toploader, paper, tape, penny sleeve) being around $.03, that adds up to a total of approximately $2.07 on a $10 order. So, I'm basically making a little bit under $4.00 each, which is actually pretty close to 90% of the card's Market Price of $4.55 right now.
Now, that sale has several other factors going into it. For starters, I'm a Gold Star Seller; which means that buyers have an additional filter they can use to find reputable stores that have great feedback records and high sale counts. Additionally, being a Level 4 seller allows me to set my own shipping costs. Providing free shipping is another enticing way to draw in sales, where someone who was charging $.99 shipping would have had to list each Titania at $3.98 in order to stay competitive in that visible race to the bottom of the listings. $3.98 * 2 + $.99 is less than the $4.98 * 2 that I was able to charge, and I saved on shipping costs anyway by mailing two cards out at once.
One of the alternatives to selling cards through the TCGplayer marketplace platform is to just buylist them; either online or through your local game store. Selling as an individual with your own storefront certainly comes with positive and negative aspects, so let's briefly address some of those.
As you might have gleaned from the discussion on percentages, selling lower-value cards will mean you lose more of a percentage of that card's total value, because of the flat costs of shipping and credit card processing fees. In other words, as your sale price of the card goes up, the fixed costs begin to impact you less. If you're planning on selling a significant number of cards through the platform, you might want to determine what the minimum card value you'll sell on the site is and be willing to accept lower profit margins on smaller stuff. Personally, I try to list cards that are at least $3.00. Of course, in many case this can be offset by buyers who buy more expensive cards to go along with the inexpensive ones, which helps to balance things out for you as a seller.
Something that might hinder your decision to open up a selling account could be how much you value your own time. While setting up the account itself is easy and painless, you'll spend a non-zero amount of time on each order; listing, packing, printing shipping labels, going to the post office, purchasing shipping supplies…. each of these small things adds up over time, and you might personally value your time highly enough to just end up buylisting everything; but we'll talk about buylists some other week. For now, I'll focus on taking the first steps to being able to get value out of a few cards you're not using through a marketplace setting.
To begin, we'll need to create an account on the TCGplayer website. If you've ever purchased cards through TCGplayer before, you can use that same account. One email confirmation and secure password later, you'll be looking at a page like this.
Click on "seller portal," and follow the subsequent instructions. At this point, I know some of my local friends who have been wary of connecting their bank accounts to a seller platform, but there's some good news. As of very recently, those of you who would prefer to keep their bank account separate have another option! You can opt to have the profits from your sales converted directly into store credit with the website, which will credit to your account every Monday and Thursday—faster than waiting for the typical deposit processing from your financial institution. This option is great for those who were planning on using their profits to pick up more cards, but it's definitely an option to make Magic cheaper for those who would prefer to not attach a bank account.
After we've finalized the details of the banking information, we're going to arrive at this fresh seller portal.
You've got some tabs to work with, some helpful help files (go figure) on the left column, a display of your feedback and number of sales (this is a blank seller account that I made for the purposes of this article), and your "level." For the most part, we'll just be using "Inventory," "Orders," and maybe "Messaging" for now.
As a Level 1 seller, you can list a total of 10 items total, and no single item over $100. While this might feel discouraging, it's really easy to jump through the four available levels, and fast. It only takes two completed sales to jump to Level 2, and those who reach Level 2 can list a total of 50 items. For those of you looking to climb the ladder to Level 4 where custom shipping options await (along with being able to list an unlimited number of items), it takes less than 70 completed sales on the platform, while having at least 90% feedback rating. If you're listing cards at a steady rate and have competitive pricing, this is easily achievable within a couple of months with even just one sale per day.
There's certainly a lot more to write about here, but the seller platform interface is so clean and simple that it feels almost unnecessary to tell you how to list items. Playing around with the Inventory button and the "Add Your Items" section on the main seller page will give you more than enough information to start testing the waters of your different simplified pricing options, and you'll be able to use the knowledge you gained about the fee structure to kind of get an idea of what you'll be getting for your cards. In future articles of this series, we'll go deeper into what the standard procedure is for when you sell a card (from that first email notification to the delivery of the buyer's mail), how to deal with problems when they arise, and how to quickly and efficiently adjust your own prices without having to keep a finger on the pulse of the entire Magic market.
I'm polishing up the end of this article at the tail end of Grand Prix: Minneapolis, and I just finished working behind the booth for one of the larger vendors in the country. I've spent a lot of time on the floor of Grand Prix, but this was the second time I've gotten to spend some time on the other side of the booth. I'm considering writing next week's article from the perspective of someone who's seen both sides of the show, and providing insight to players on how to get the best value out of interacting with a vendor at a Grand Prix. Is this the kind of content you're interested in? Alternatively, we can keep discussing the ins and outs of learning to list and sell cards on a marketplace platform. Let me know in the comments below, or at @Rose0fthorns on Twitter.
Thanks for reading!