While I sat at my desk procrastinating on my article this week, I decided to do something else that I had been putting off for some number of weeks. I briefly foreshadowed this topic during one of my earlier articles teaching how to sell on TCGplayer's marketplace platform, but I decided to save it for a rainy day like today when I was at my wit's end thinking about what to write about.
While the Pro Tour is interesting for those who enjoy playing Standard and Limited, someone like me has a lot less of a reason to keep tabs on what decks are crushing the PT. As a vendor, I'm not actively buying a bunch of cards reactively based on new information; I just want to have everything in stock while also selling everything all the time. Even if I did want to buy cards reactively (which we don't), we didn't get a whole lot of movement. Vraska, Relic Seeker and Legion's Landing saw a bit of a price jump a week or so ago, but overall the main Standard spikes (Search for Azcanta, Drowned Catacombs, Fetid Pools, and The Scarab God) happened after the World Championship. The fact that the Pro Tour was later in the season was partially to blame, but we also didn't see any sparkly breakout decks that cause a bunch of crazed buying behavior. Remember New Perspectives during Pro Tour Amonkhet? That was a card that went to $4 for a quick minute on Friday night into Saturday morning, but immediately fizzled once it couldn't climb to the top of the metagame.
Usually when a card jumps rapidly in price, we see a lot of copies start to appear on the market as other people decide to cash out their own cards into the hype. Vraska is a good example of this; She's currently sitting at around $20 Market Price right now because the success she saw on the PT. I expect her price to steadily drop bit by bit as players decide that they'd rather have twenty-something dollars instead of a cardboard snake lady. Let's say for example that you've got four copies of Vraska, and you list each of them for $21 apiece. Now, Vraska might stay at $21 for the next several months. She might not. Let's take advantage of our hypothetical article-world, and say that she doesn't stick there. In fact, I checked my store inventory and someone's already listed one at $17.81 (with free shipping) to try and grab a quick sale.
So let's say that you list a bunch of stuff on the site, and it's getting hard to keep track of it all. It's certainly not rational to check every single listing you have, and make sure you've got competitive prices. That would be tedious, and it would take forever if you had a decent amount of stuff listed.
Enter the price differential report. It's a handy tool that allows you to check for outliers among the current cards you have listed. There's a couple different uses for a tool like this, but first let's explain what it is and how it works.
The term "price differential report" kind of sounds like something you saw in an Economics 101 class during high school, but hear me out. This is a helpful little tip I've used in the past when I go too long without listing a bunch of products on the site, if I experience a Drought in sales that I can't attribute to other factors, or if I set my store to vacation mode and want to check all my prices before I turn my visibility back on. I'll let you take a look at an example of a quick one I generated with my store today.
To get to this screen, I went to my Seller Portal, clicked on Reports, then Price Differential Report. You probably won't have to narrow the search any further than "all," but you can run separate reports for all of the various non-Magic products you have listed, if any. The first thing that'll pop up is all of your biggest outliers that are probably listed too high compared to the lowest current listing. As you can see in the picture, I've got a lightly played foil Yavimaya Hollow that I updated during the surge in demand for Urza's block foils last month. As more players and stores have come out to list their copies, the price has dropped by approximately 36%, or $171. That's a card that I almost completely forgot I had listed, but the price differential report helped me see that it needed to be updated; There's even a one-click option to "Manage" that price and change it to a more reasonable level that has a higher chance of selling.
As you go down the list, you'll see some other similar high-end cards that I had listed during price increases, then neglected to update as more supply was added to the market. In this situation, the price differential report helps me to find cards that I'm currently overcharging for (by accident), and adjust those numbers to a more reasonable level. Nobody's buying Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper foils for $30 anymore, so let's change that back to $17 to compete with the lowest current listing.
On the other hand, you could run a differential for cards that you might be listing for too low a price. I've used this in the past when I hid my store during a Pro Tour, when I was on vacation, or even if I had a busy couple of weeks during school and had to put Magic on hold for a bit. Instead of checking up on every single card price that had shifted in the interim, I was able to run a quick report on my inventory in the Seller Platform, and see if there was anything that would be drastically underpriced when I turned my inventory back on.
One such example that happened to me a while back was when Thopter Foundry was unbanned in Modern. This was before I knew how to run my own price differential reports, and I was proud of myself that I had updated my listings of Foundry and Sword of the Meek to reflect their post-unbanning prices after a couple days. I put my store back online, only to immediately sell out of all my copies of Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas at $15… even though they were $40 in the wake of Thopter Foundry hype. Whoops. Here's an example of the different report that I could've used in that situation to maximize my returns on those Tezzerets.
Unlike the foil Hollow or Untaidake, I don't have any drastic outliers on the other end of the spectrum right now. I've got a bunch of Commander Anthology products at a little bit lower than Market Price, because I bought so many of those products and ended up overstocked. By checking the "Compare prices against Market Price" option instead of Lowest Listing and then adjusting the percentage or dollar amount differential columns, you can see all of the data you'd need for a quick scan to make sure your inventory is alright to go live without risking selling anything at below buylist prices.
The other blue link under the Reports tab won't be as relevant to most readers of this article, but it can give you some interesting personal statistics on your personal sales. TCGplayer lets you generate a Sales Summary Report and see your gross and net sales from any two date points. If you want to see an average of how much you're making in sales per month, per year or even across the entire lifetime of your store, this tool can help you with that. It's been relevant and helpful for me to hand over to my accountant when it comes to reporting my own taxes, but that's delving into a whole different area of finance.
As the restock of Commander 2017 floods into stores and players hands alike, we're going to see a lot of depressed prices on some of the staples from these four decks in the short term. Teferi's Protection has climbed down from $20 to around $14.50, Herald's Horn is now $5 instead of $7, and even Path of Ancestry is seeing a little dip from its evergreen $3 price tag, down into the $2.50 range. If you're a player who has been patient enough to pick up these singles, now is your opportunity to buy in before the numbers rebound in the next six months. Cards like these tend to be difficult to reprint within the same calendar year, so now is your chance to get Teferi's Protection before you see it at $20 again next summer.
On the other hand, we're seeing staples that didn't get reprinted in Commander 2017 climb further up as players rush to add them to decks. Cards like Reliquary Tower that have perennially been $2-$3 are creeping up to $4, and Vandalblast is climbing past that $3 mark as well. If you have bulk commons and uncommons that you haven't picked through in a while, Commander continues to give you hundreds of reasons to do so and get some value out of cards that are sitting there collecting dust.
How's everyone's TCGplayer store doing? This is one of the first articles I've done on the subject since my initial series of setup guides, so I'm curious to hear how everyone is faring in the marketplace. Are there any other areas of the Seller Portal you'd like me to focus on in the coming weeks? Let me know in the comments section below, and thanks for reading!
- DJ Johnson