Monday, April 20, 2009

Take The Surprise Out Of The Autos

The hibernation of etopps autograph offerings is finally over. Not one basketball offering and a late start for baseball compared to last year when the autographs started in March.

So why the long wait? With the crippling economy, it's statistically possible that some of the membership has been affected one way or another (such as unemployment). My guess is etopps took a wait & see approach based on recent IPO sales from the last two weeks of baseball IPO orders.

So etopps is taking the low road by offering Evan Longoria auto for $45, low enough to be a test to see whether or not we are willing to shell out the extra bucks beyond each week's IPOs? Since etopps is offering only four IPOs at a time at decent prices (and print runs I should add), I'm not sure if this particular autograph is a good one to determine whether autographs with higher asking prices will sell-out.

History shows the momentum of both the baseball and football IPO seasons are at their peaks usually at the start of their respective seasons. As an example, etopps could offer four place-kickers in its first week of football IPOs and they would all sell out.

But let's focus on the the long baseball season. IPOs stretch from April through August week after week. Etopps ought to take a longer look at the ordering patterns in May and June to see if people continue to place their orders for every IPO -- or are they ordering less and less? (Especially the Monday after credit card bills are issued) Or simply: will the IPOs sell out week after week, month after month even with this economy?

And if they don't sell out, then what does etopps do about the autograph offerings? Will etopps regret selling Longoria at $45/each if this auto could be better positioned if IPO sales start dwindling? Wouldn't it make more sense to sell the higher-priced autos now at the beginning of the season/momentum?


What if etopps had a different approach to the autograph program? What if we were given the entire autograph schedule for this year's baseball season? As blasphemous as this sounds, what does etopps have to lose? Why be surprised each week? We no longer have this surprise for each week's IPOs - in fact, we were just emailed before 1PM EST which cards will be offered.

By seeing the entire autograph schedule, members can financially plan ahead to buy the autograph they really like. I think this is something we deserve even if the whole schedule cannot be released, it should at least become available to members as soon as the autograph are a definite go.

What's the gain of being surprised each week? If you were not a member of etopps 3+ years ago, there was a time when we didn't know the IPO offerings each week until they were posted, the autographs just showed up for sale without a head's up and the catalog would just become available without any schedule. In other words, it was chaos.

While I understand etopps does not give a schedule of their IPOs for the season and it's their decision, not having one for the autographs which requires deeper pockets is not in their best interest at the time of this economy, especially when the hobby is sinking, disposable income is lacking and the thrill of the surprise is merely a shell of what etopps used to be about.

Etopps can gain something from the membership by disclosing their schedule of auto offerings that they need as much as our IPO orders: trust.

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