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Sales, Swaps, Auction & Approvals/Approvals Disc. : An Observation On Sales

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Soundcrest
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27 Sep 2015
06:26:36am

Auctions - Approvals
I, and I'm sure all sellers have noticed a very interesting thing that goes on with sales books and I can't quite figure out why and how to correct the problem. A sales book is usually gone through within the first couple of days it is up. After that, very rarely does a stamp get sold. If though, you take a book that has maybe 60% or more of it sold, add to it and put it back up, stamps that did not sell out of the remainder, now sell. This happens over and over again. I'm not sure what the reason is. My initial thought is that if a person sees that a book has 75% of it sold, they won't waste their time going through it. It does not seem to matter if you put a price reduction on it. Yes it comes up as reduced prices in the list, but for me at least, it did not result in additional sales. I stopped doing that after changing a dozen or so books. What I am doing though is when I have say 300 stamps for a given country, I put maybe 200 of them into a book, and save 100 for a restock. I will do it again this coming week, taking down two books with 80 percent sold, and adding to it creating one new book. I have no doubt that some of those remaining stamps in the two books will sell, and these will not be sold to new buyers, but rather my existing buyers who missed the initial first day of sale. It's an interesting problem. How to get potential buyers to check picked through books without taking the whole book down, reworking it and putting it back up so it is now 100% full.
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musicman
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APS #213005
27 Sep 2015
08:45:41am
re: An Observation On Sales

Quote:

"A sales book is usually gone through within the first couple of days it is up. After that, very rarely does a stamp get sold....
...My initial thought is that if a person sees that a book has 75% of it sold, they won't waste their time going through it."



I agree with this comment; I personally will assume that, if that much of it has sold already, there can't be much of value/interest left there....and I usually move on.
This may or may not be the actual case, but it is my assumption as I'm "window Shopping" for things.

This is likely unhappy news for sellers, but I believe this may be a common thing.







Randy

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rrraphy
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Retired Ap. Book Mod. Retired Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Retired consultant
27 Sep 2015
02:06:32pm
re: An Observation On Sales

I have noticed the same thing. New books get a lot of attention. Old books don't.
Adding stamps to an old book does not really rekindle the original flames. Discounting stamps in old books do not seem to generate much added interest.

I think it is all about convenience. A book with all new material is a lot easier to go through than one that has been picked through. Even if every stamp has multiple copies, it just does not overcome the feeling buyers have that a book that has been thouroughly picked will just not have enough material of interest left over. And no one likes looking at stamps they want on an approval page, and finding out it is already sold. So new books give a buyer a much higher likelyhood of not being disappointed.

I have experimented with various approaches to generate more interest in older books, and test what works and does not. Nothing really duplicates the interest, and the rush of purchases we currently see when a new book has been posted. New books work really well for collectors intent on filling a lot of spots in their collections, or even just a few!

I have personally come to the conclusion that the best course of action as a seller is to reissue books that are older than 3 months, and to also reissue books that have been thouroughly picked through.
So the key question is: How do you transfer old material from a depleted book into a new Approval book, and do it most efficiently? I like my current technique of mounting the stamps on the SOR printed pages, using the removable tape. It makes it extremely easy to transfer the remainder unsold material from older book pages to a new books.
There is no extra handling required, like needed when moving stamps to stockcards to reuse my "uniplate" stock sheets. And just using stocksheet would require too much of an investment as I would need 1000 page to fit all my active books. The SOR pages work efficienly to inventory what you have left, including notes and comments. I print extra SOR pages as needed as I proceed.

As anyone who has put an Approval book together will tell you, it does take some time to create a book the first time around. But one can reissue a new book with the leftover material and add new material in a very efficient way.
And since letover material sells just as well as newly added material, I come to the conclusion that it is a matter of convenience to the buyer, more than anything else that determines sales.

One last comment. Books which are better organized, including cat numbers, years etc.. or organized sequentially sell much better than a randomly organized book, where stamps are just thrown on a page in random fashion. Again, confirmation in my mind that buyers look at convenience. Buyers want convenience and dislike going through an older book to select the stamps they want and then page down to buy them, one by one, find out that the stamps have already been sold.

Retiring old books and starting new ones with the leftover material, plus adding newer stuff seems to work best for buyers and sellers.

One recommendation: When you incorporate the older material in a new book, for the sake of total disclosure, please state it in the title,. This is not a rule but a courtesy. It is currently done by many Approval books sellers, and much appreciated!

rrr...

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bobstew617
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27 Sep 2015
06:15:02pm
re: An Observation On Sales

Brechinite,

No offense, but I COULD NOT DISAGREE WITH YOU MORE ABOUT THE AUCTIONS!!!
(And this is from one of the two auctioneers)
I cannot and will not speak about the Approvals, but there is DEFINITELY work to do on my side of the ledger.

Much of the material in the auctions is inexpensive stuff that belongs in the Approvals.
There are other significant issues that need to be addressed.

The category that really needs some better stuff is UNITED STATES. I Don't Want To See
As I alluded to in another thread, the Topicals category is being misused as far as I am concerned in most cases.

And this is just TWO issues!

I DO agree that Stamporama needs more members, but if there is a lot of undesirable material in the auctions, they will have one less reason to stay.

My last charge to you, Brechinite, is have you been distributing any of the advertising cards that Kelly (Poodle_Mum) has beautifully designed? I have, and they will be right at the APS show in Orlando (FLOREX) December 4-6.

BOB STEWART







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musicman
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APS #213005
27 Sep 2015
06:21:00pm
re: An Observation On Sales

Quote:

"THE PROBLEM with low sales in Approvals and Auctions is entirely down to one fact:-

STAMPORAMA DOES NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT MEMBERS!!!!!!!!!!!"





Really? Nearly 3000 members and its not enough?

I don't think its any one factor - its a wide combination of factors.

But I also think the main 2 reasons are as follows;

1) too many common low-value items; nearly everyone has this stuff except for true beginners...and they do not tend to join a site/group such as this immediately. By the time they do, they most likely already have a lot of the common items we are seeing here.

2) too much bickering among members; we talk of being a "family" here, and yet continue to bicker on the little things. Yes, families ARE dysfunctional, BUT - we need to nip it in the bud if we are to expect to gain new members who are also new to collecting and are LOOKING for the low-value common stuff.


....my 2 cents....not worth a lot, but I'm spending it.....








Randy

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thebiggnome
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27 Sep 2015
07:25:15pm
re: An Observation On Sales

Quote:

"Much of the material in the auctions is inexpensive stuff that belongs in the Approvals.
...there is a lot of undesirable material in the auctions,"



Methinks I sense condescension.

Inexpensive items are NOT undesirable items. The success of the approvals section proves this. It is also false that all inexpensive items belong in the approvals. The most successful auctions (stamp or otherwise) have tons of cheap stuff available. Ebay seems to have no shortage of customers despite having thousands, even millions, of cheap lots. If you take all the cheap stuff out of the auctions, you'll have even fewer participants because it'll just be you rich guys in there.


Quote:

"too many common low-value items; nearly everyone has this stuff except for true beginners"



If everyone had this stuff, none of it would be selling, but some of it is. If it was truly undesirable stuff, why would you want to shove it into the approvals section?


We do have the tools to efficiently search through the auction lots (when they are listed correctly) but it seems people would rather whine than learn to use them.

Chris
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Soundcrest
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27 Sep 2015
08:32:49pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: An Observation On Sales

I have learned over the years which go way back to when I sold my first stamp, a swiss stamp that the person paid 25 cents for, you have to know your customer base. Stamporama is unlike any site I have ever worked with. When I joined last November my gut feeling was this cannot work for me. My existing stock is not a mesh with the policies of Stamporama. That is still true approval wise and because of that nothing that is in any of my other site stores are in my approval books. Everything is bought new. Even my old packet stuff which I tried putting up in books with no catalog numbers is a no go. It still sits in packets in boxes and will probably never see the light of day unless I am desperate. On the auction end it was a total bust initially. Why? I was offering the lots that were not selling on ebay, and those lots usually had a catalog value of at least $10. While I start my auctions at 20% Scott, I quickly realized that this site does not have a lot (at least I haven't had any purchases by) buyers who are willing to spend $2 for a stamp at auction. Thats fine. My other sites are for that, and if I figure out the bulk lister I may try them here as well if it does not take too long. When that didn't work I tried penny auctions. Took a while but I have begin getting buyers and I am getting more than one bid. There were though a group of people missing - those people who would spend between 15 cents and a dollar for an item. Almost nothing that i have in my old Bidstart lots fit the bill for that group of people, so again, I purchased new and now have quite a number (hundreds actually) of sets and singles that I can list for 20% in lower priced auctions. Over the years I have constantly had to reinvent myself as a dealer - and believe me I don't make a lot at it. It is also understanding your customer base at every selling venue. For now I think I have planted seeds for the future. Already I have had the same buyer at both auctions AND approvals in the same week. That's a new one for me. They are two unique groups elsewhere and they do not cross over the line. The only thing we don't do here is cater to the third group of people, and there is no way that I see that we can. The haggler. The buyer who wants to get a bargain by offering you less than your asking price. Ebay thrives on that. Bidstart and Delcampe not so much. These folks just want to think they got a deal, just like you do at garage sales. I sold on ebay for over 15 years until I started using that feature - accpet best offer. Makes a world of difference.

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copy55555
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27 Sep 2015
08:58:34pm
re: An Observation On Sales

Quote:

"Really? Nearly 3000 members and its not enough?"



Has anyone gone through the membership lists? I did a quick check of some random members in the US, Canada, the Baltics, etc. I was surprised at how many members neither bought or sold any lots or even accessed the site at all. Many have 2010 or earlier as a "last accessed" date. Some don't even have a date. So perhaps, we have less than 3000 members to sell our material to.

I have also looked through many of the approval books. Not sure why anyone is complaining that approvals don't sell. A 60% sold rate is great, in my opinion. Some books with multiple copies of the same stamp also sell fairly well. One can't expect everything to be a sellout. You don't find many 5c or 10c stamps on eBay.

Something I have to consider if I'm going to offer some of my material either in approvals or the auction. Anyway, these are some of my thoughts as a buyer (so far) on SOR.

Tad
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Soundcrest
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27 Sep 2015
09:11:09pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: An Observation On Sales

Tad, approvals sell great here! It's what happens after the first week. True it is hit and miss. I have had some books that I thought would do great fall flat on their faces (under 50% sales is fall flat on your face at least to me) and others sell like crazy. No, you will not find 5-10 cent stamps on ebay as stores don't allow it, only auctions. Bidstart you might see some but they are having so many issues over there with the Stanley Gibbons thing that who knows what will be left when the smoke clears. Delcampe charges a 17 cent per item "tax" per stamp as a way to rid the site of 5&10 cent stamps. It does seem that the way to go is to take down and out back up with new stock added to the existing book. The only thing you need to do that is time

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cardstamp
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28 Sep 2015
01:09:54am

Approvals
re: An Observation On Sales

Going back to the original post - I have to agree 100% with these sales observations. I feel like when I put a new book up with in a matter of the first few hours it has been stripped very quickly. Then after a few days - it just sits there with no additional sales. I leave them up and sometimes I get a few stragglers that take a few more items. I have also noticed that if I take the book down re-sort some of the stamps and add duplicates and some additional items and put it back up - many of the stamps that were there from previously sell the second time around. I had started reducing the prices by 50% after 4 months on whatever was left and I have a few folks who now seem to wait for me to do this at the start of each month and sometime they take almost everything that is left in the book. Now I am wondering if I should either not mark the remainder of the books on sale after 4 months and just plan on putting them back up in a few months or perhaps just plan to do the sales sooner to clear them out. Regardless - I have been very happy with selling here with the approvals. Most of the stamps I would not consider putting up on BIDSTART because of the low value and costs of doing so. I have cleared out quite a bit of inventory in just under my first year here. I do find the approval books with about 7-11 pages max works best for me. I have been so busy with approvals - I just do not have the time to even give the auctions a try. Once in awhile I have posted a few but with little to no success - but I may try some again soon. I do indicate in the title when I re-issue a book and note that in the book's description also. I have not taken the time to put in the Scott #'s - because it is just too time consuming and I have been doing well without doing that. I do try to organize the book so the stamps from the same time period are together as much as I can. The only concern I do have is I have many repeat buyers but very rarely do I get someone new now although I did get someone new today !.

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Stevo45
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28 Sep 2015
04:07:23am
re: An Observation On Sales

Approvals - I have only used them in the last few months but already I have found the same issues as all the other posters here.

Auctions - I am just about to list some stamps but, I have found that to search for a range of items ( maybe all the stamps from a year and Country) is nearly impossible, because there is generally not enough info in the sellers title.

A Scott (or any other) Cat Number is simply not enough information to search for.

Out of interest I looked at lots of Auctions and the ones that had bids (Last week) appeared to be the items that had BOTH the Cat Number AND Country & Issue Date in the title - So they could be found by people that search by both methods.

For me I will be listing stamps that I generally do not collect and so I do not have a cat for those - So I will list 'em just with the Country and Year of issue.

Cheers

Steve.

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Soundcrest
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28 Sep 2015
08:02:13am

Auctions - Approvals
re: An Observation On Sales

I've thought of adding an issue date in the title but since someone someplace had mentioned you should put the year of the Scott catalog you are using in the title I figured that it would make it too cluttered. I did not realize people search for auctions by date of issue. That being said I'll drop the catalog info down to the description and put the year in the title (and hope I remember to change it!)

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
28 Sep 2015
09:03:48am
re: An Observation On Sales

Just so we're clear: SOME people search by issue year. OTHERS do not. Year will seldom be useful to me for a stamp (it might for a cover). But you can't please all of us.

I think that the more information provided, the greater the likelihood of a sale; but it's all at the cost of your time.

David

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
28 Sep 2015
09:53:57am
re: An Observation On Sales

Membership counts on web sites actually mean very little, and are probably the most abused statistics of a web site.

The membership count ticker goes up as soon as someone is approved for membership. Many people show up, stay for a few days, and never return. Many come for a while and then don't return. Over time, the count of these short timers, who remain on the membership role grows. I wouldn't be surprised if inactive members (those who have not logged in within the past six months) approaches at least 50% on most web sites.

Then that leaves those members who log in once every few months. That is probably a good percentage as well, maybe 10% to 15%?

If you take those percentages, the total active members on SOR would not be 3000, but closer to 1200. Of that 1200, many will just browse through the discussion boards. They will not look at the sales area. Maybe that brings those looking at the sales area down to less than 1000 potential buyers. Of course there will be members who only utilize the sales areas, but I still think that less than 1000 members are buying.

I don't know if the internal web site reporting is robust enough to tell how many unique buyers there have been during the past six months, year, etc. to see trends. It would be interesting to see how many unique members out of the 3000 have logged in to SOR during the past 6 months. That would give an idea of how many active members there truly are here, and how many of those are using the sales area.

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snowy12
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28 Sep 2015
09:09:05pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: An Observation On Sales

Brechinite wrote

My collecting areas are quite eclectic so there is very little to offer me on the auctions or approvals it does not stop me looking but I live in hope that one day there will be something for me.
I am in the same boat as Ian a very narrow collecting field,which I see very little material from in the auction or the approval books.
I do have a lot of excess material which I offer in our auctions ,some sells some does'nt ,if it doesn't sell I will relist at the reduced price.
The only thing I can't reduce are the new issues I offer as I put these up at or very near to my cost price.I'm not interested in making big bucks ,just trying to help fellow collectors out.
On the other hand I enjoy SOR ,the friendship,comradery,I am on the SOR every day checking out the all new items,and finishing in 24 hours (just in case I missed something) and the discussion board which unlike some members I do participate in .I do check the the approval books occasionally as the odds of finding any thing I need are very slim.
All in all I love SOR.
Brian

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cdj1122
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29 Sep 2015
12:22:06am
re: An Observation On Sales

Back to what I think was the core issue of this topic; "Why would buyers avoid material in a semi-depleted book and then gobble the same issues up when a book is rebuilt?"

" ... My initial thought is that if a person sees that a book has 75% of it sold, they won't waste their time going through it ..."

Just imagine it is late at night and you decide to browse through a book that is 60+% sold. Suddenly there is a beautiful, postally cancelled example of that seldom seen stamp from Haute Slobovia. with the curved perforations. It's on the ten or fifteen cent page near the back of the book. The coffee cup almost spills onto the keyboard (cold by now anyway) and you slide the cursor down to select the correct number, yes, it was sold and your tortured brain begins to demonstrate why it is called a "curser."

And the damm coffee is cold, too!
And sleeping becomes even less possible.
Do that several times and you'll see why ones mental make-up is calmer if you just stick to the newer, less pored over books.
As to the suggestion that the very low value stamps are only of interest to newbies, I object, sir. I cannot enumerate how many times I've come across some inexpensive item that fills the last space on a page or provides a much better cancellation than the smudged copy I settled for ten or twenty years ago, when I was merely "approaching" elderly.

Another thing that happens is when I see some very nice stamp that would fit right onto a topical page. I probably have one copy in the WW albums, but hadn't a duplicate to add to the topical pages. Another nickel added to the list.

I think I recall that the approval pages were sold, at least partly, as a way for members to unload all, or some, of those duplicates that fill stock books and shoe boxes as, over the years, we have advanced from novice to intermediate to advanced and sometimes specialist expert, stamps that piled up year after year, destined to become kindling at a giant bonfire in the backyard on Guy Fawkes Day. ( November 5th )

At first I thought the approval books were an unworkable idea, but now I have become a regular stage-door Johnny lying in wait in the philatelic alley at night just hoping to get first crack at the objects of my affectation.
So, I think the idea of re-furbishing a semi-depleted book is a great one when there are less than 40% left in the on-line approval book. How that mechanism works or can be made to work best is another subject, but just as I enjoyed sitting at a dealers table or counter for hours pulling stamps from half-filled albums until at closing time, when the dealer turned off the coffee pot, ( hint ) dimmed the lights, ( hint, hint ) and began to tabulate the long column of stamps ( Final hint ) carefully written with a far too stubby pencil that I'd chosen from a cup of equally grubby, stubby, yellow Eberhard pencils, I greatly enjoy sitting at my pretend counter at home and picking over the posted approval books.
I hope I am not the only solitary collector who talks to his little precious, Gollum like, and expecting answers from the helpless computer page ?

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