Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beta Site Preview

Well we finally have the new site up for a beta preview.


Please read the instructions at the top of the site. Our plan is to finish up a few last minute things and hopefully migrate to the new site in the upcoming week or two. We have an exciting list of new (and a few missing) features that we can finally get to work on at that point. We ask you to give the new site a test drive and let us know any bugs or problems you find. Also please be patient with us while we re-implement the last few features that may be missing from the original site.


All of us here at CardShark.com

Postage and Shipping Changes

We pride ourselves on having the lowest postage in the industry.  At one point our postage was so low it was ridiculous, but then the USPS went and introduced the rigid sorting policy.  This basically meant that any package that couldn't be machine sorted based on width or non-uniform rigidy (think top loaders or stacks of cards in an envelope) would not be sortable and would carry a surcharge.

At first we thought the sky was falling, but people have seemed to adjusted to the new postal rates fairly well in the last few years.  We used to encourage two sets of packaging policies.  The first is for the power sellers that can try to sneak by the system if they know what they are doing most of the time and shave a few cents off the total.  The other is the more conservative model for everyone else.  We had to adjust our prices for the more conservative model obviously.

With the new site launch our official shipping policies will be set to enforce the more conservative shipping model.  This would include shipping in padded envelopes if appropriate or possibly bigger envelopes with top loaders or cardboard. We encourage people to package their item more as a parcel and not as an envelope since they are being paid for it anyway.  They are still free to use envelopes if they know what they are doing.

We may do a Postal Service Tips series on this blog in the future for the hard core, but our standard shipping guidelines will no longer recommend or suggest any thing like this.  Ultimately it is always up to the seller and they will be responsible for extra postage or possibly replacing damaged items if they try to cut corners.

Delivery Confirmation:  Some think it's the bee's knees.  Others hate it.  It costs more and is harder for the average seller to get on their packages. Sadly CardShark.com is held to a higher power. Our e-commerce provider requires us to provide delivery confirmation sometimes and if the seller wasn't cautious enough to buy it, we get  stuck holding the bag. Insurance is a poor substitute to prove that something was shipped and actually arrived.  Delivery confirmation can actually be a great thing because it can prove an item was shipped, delivered or in limbo.  This makes it much easier to figure out who gets a refund and who has to take responsibility for the loss.

With the launch of the new site we now offer the ability for buyers to purchase delivery confirmation. It is .70 which is the highest delivery confirmation charge at the post office.  Power sellers can glean .15 extra
by using electronic delivery confirmation.  We believe a large package is also required to support this.  It cannot be purchased on envelopes probably.  The buyer that purchases delivery confirmation will most likely receive a full refund at the sellers expense if the item isn't delivered or lost by the postal service.  In the case that the seller shipped it, we will work with both parties for an equitable solution.  If the buyer doesn't buy delivery confirmation, the seller isn't off the hook though.  They are still responsible for delivering the promised product, but we will be more balanced in our resolution of any customer service complaints.

Check out CardShark.com for more information about packaging, shipping, and extra postal services.

Priority Mail: The USPS has created some good Priority Mail plans lately. They offer a fixed price plan for a reasonable price that let's you ship up to 4 lbs.  This should cover just about any order and if the order is over 4lbs, you should be happy as a seller and pay the extra postage if any.  You also get free packaging.  Our new system will only provide sellers with the flat rate priority mail amount and expects them to use the free packaging (it's in your favor anyways) to qualify for the flat rates.

New Shipping Prices: We have simplified and revamped our shipping prices.  We have fewer categories now (1-3, 4-16, etc) and have (slightly higher in some cases, and slightly lower in other cases) shipping charges.  Our goal was to maintain overall similar shipping while giving sellers that extra boost in key areas where the previous shipping was inadequate or had changed over time. Check out our site for more information:

Seller Shipping Allowances

International shipping: We have revamped our internationl shipping prices.  We have mostly added extra padding for sellers in this area and the buyers will be paying a bit more.  This is to help defer the larger customer service expenses, shipping costs and ecommerce fees for overseas purchases.  International Flat rate mail will be required at certain levels and the necessary (free) packaging from the USPS will also be needed, but once again it's in your favor.  Check out the following pages for more information:

International Shipping Information

International Shipping Prices

Please let us know if you feel any changes are required to the shipping costs before we go live.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Seller sorting on card detail page.

Why is that seller with 4#@$#@$#@ xxxAwesomeDude 4#@$#@$#@ always first in the listings?

Well someone figured out how to game the system and we don't like it any more than you do.  We have wanted to do something about this for a long time and are ready to address the problem after the new site launches.

The question:  How do you sort listings?
The answer: By price silly.

The Next question:  What if price is equal?
The answer: hmmm....

Alphabetical?  By how long the seller has been a member?  By their feedback rating?  By their confirmation time? By their Premium seller level? Random? By divine inspiration? By a mystical unimplemented CardShark condifence score?

See why we never get anything done?  It's tough to decide between all of these very viable options.

Let us know your thoughts.  Give us your top 3 sorting preferences (in order). Once you get past the first option you find yourself in a recursive loop asking what to sort on next.

Another option is to let people buy top placement (hey we could use the cash).  Maybe a bidding system.  We like the sound of that....

A final option thinking outside of the box is to have a seller commendation system.  This let's satisfied buyers give a hi-5 or a prop to a seller.  We could sort on who has the most satisfied customers.  This sounds like it would scale to get the best sellers on top too.  This sounds interesting and would give those hard working sellers some warm fuzzies....  mmm fuzzy.

We could also let users choose their own sorting options as a preference.  This would let each person pick what is most meaningful to them.  This might even be extended to providing a list of favorite sellers and only include them or include them at the top.

Whatever we do it will probably be phase 2 after the site launches.

Send in those comments.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Notes and Seller Promotions

I am a power Ebay seller with 8 trillion ratings!    Buy 1 get 1 free.  Free shipping if you can find my character on World of Warcraft Bonechewer server near the fountain.

Notes, they are great for some things, but can start to look like spam real fast. Recently, they have been abused and turned into pure promotional vehicles for the sellers and are gumming up the cards for sale pages.

It's time for us to get tough on notes. A few months ago we did a big purge by deleting a bunch of these kinds of notes.  When the new site launches it will become a major policy change.

All notes should only deal with something specific about a card. If it's about something else it is not a note, it is spam.  We will be slowly cleaning up the old notes once the new site is live, but in the meantime, get in the habit of only entering notes for specific differences about a card.  For example, if a card is a foreign language card you can say Chinese or Japanese in the notes field. If the card has a bite out of the corner from your dog, sure you should probably mention that. If you basement just had Noah's Ark pass through causing water damage to everything in sight including your awesome collection of power 9 then yes, if it's still remotely sell-able, mention it (and be sure to grade it as Heavy Play as well).

Special editions, or anything that doesn't have a checkbox on the seller page can be mentioned.  We are attempting to add additional categorization for things like Foreign, Foil, Collector's edition, Signed, etc.  Notes should rarely appear and if we feel you are abusing the notes field for better listing exposure your notes will be removed with a warning and possible suspension with multiple infringements.

Our new system removes the notes field from the bulk listing tools and even from single selling tools when listing more than one card.  This should help prevent abuse and support the new policy. 

With this change we can also improve the card selling pages by "rolling" up all items by price and condition.  This will make these pages must easier to deal with and let buyers choose multiple quantities to add to cart from a drop down (similar to how MTGO is now).  We are very excited about this change and we hope it will dramatically improve the buy process.

We see some frowning faces from the sellers asking "how will we promote ourselves?"
Answer: Run a member promotion and get that cute star next your name or become a premium seller and get a great Shark next to your name.  Be awesome and get a 4.9 or 5.0 next to your name.  If that isn't enough we are adding a more advanced Seller Profile page that gives all kinds of great stats on how awesome you are as a seller. This page will also in the future allow for a promotional message and even the ability to flag several (10?) cards you want to feature.

Let us know your comments on how to make the Seller Profile page better and anything related to notes.  We are pretty firm on this change but will consider any ideas that makes the notes system or seller promotion abilities more viable.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Upcoming Password and Email Changes

Some new changes are coming to the user system with the new CardShark.com site which will be launching shortly.

We want to give a heads up to our users and make sure you understand these changes and how they will affect you.

1. Passwords
The first major change is resetting all passwords.  Some people have passwords from over 9 years ago that have never been changed and were created with no length requirements. We are also moving to a new internally encrypted format and enforcing a password policy.

We will be randomly assigning new passwords to all users.  When you attempt to access the new site (or Beta site) you will need to click the Forgot Password program from the Login screen instead of logging in with your old credentials.  Your password will then be sent to your registered email address.  At that point, you can then login to the system and either change your password or keep your new secure password.

Our new password policy will require passwords to be at least 6 characters long and contain 1 symbol.   We know this is annoying, but with the rise in hacking attempts throughout the world, it is important. Note: All of this is described on the Login page as well.

If your email address on our system is wrong, you won't be able to login and you will need to write to us to sort this out. This leads us to our next big change...

2. Emails
Our new system will strongly enforce a few things for new users.

First, unique email addresses that support our policy of one account per user.  Next, in order to access the site you will need to verify your email address.  We currently only require sellers to verify.  We are also improving the verification program to avoid some bugs with certain web-based email clients in the past. Having a valid email and being able to be contacted by our system is essential.

We have some other changes we will discuss in future blog posts, so stay tuned.