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

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cardstamp
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09 Jun 2019
11:59:08am

Approvals
I have been selling stamps via approval books for several years now. This is not about overall sales but just views. I notice a trend that has started in the last few months. It used to be that when I put a new book up - I would get an average of about 40 views within the first few weeks. Now the average views for a new book is around 20. Obviously that would translate to sales on those books as well. Either what I am putting up is of no interest to others anymore but how could you know for sure if you don't at least view the book. The other option is that there are just less folks even looking at the approval books now compared to a few years ago. It could just be my first option and what I am putting up is of no interest anymore based on the book title - so no reason to even view it. I am starting to question if the amount of time to put books together and post them is worth my effort. This is something I will continue to monitor for the rest of this year but I would be interested in knowing if other sellers have noticed a similar trend or not. Thanks, Steve
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smauggie
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09 Jun 2019
01:10:55pm
re: Just An Observation

I suppose you could test your hypothesis by offering an approval book that is a shake-up from your normal style/offering and see if that garners a different reaction.

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
09 Jun 2019
02:03:35pm
re: Just An Observation

One possibility is that you have 23 approval books listed. Of that number, 5 are from Spain, and 8 are from Germany. Only 10 books are from other areas.

Your pricing is much higher (double and more) than what almost everyone else is charging for the same stamps.

On Stamporama, there are many sellers who are in competition for a small number of buyers.

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Brechinite
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Neddie Seagoon from The Telegoons
09 Jun 2019
08:07:20pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Just An Observation

Sellers must continually try and find different countries to put up, not just in the Approvals but also the Auctions.

There are only a limited no of buyers for specific countries/areas.

Over the last couple of weeks I have put up a few items of Singapore. They sold well.
Prior to me listing the Singapore items there had NOT been many Singapore items listed. Today there are now 55 items. Should I list more of mine, I still have quite a few to list, the answer is no I will not. Maybe in a month or two.

Last week I bought a nice Portugal accumulation over several stock books and loose. I was able to add many stamps to my own collection. The rest will be sold here and elsewhere but it will take many, many, many months to sell them, if at all. How many Portugal collectors are there on Stamporama? Not many. The same can be said of every country.

With the large number of Approval Books on here SATURATION POINT is getting closer and closer. For certain countries this point has already been reached.

The other constraint is how many 5-10 cent stamps do you have to buy from the one seller to off set the postage costs? 100, 200 or three hundred? How many sellers have enough Approval Books listed to satisfy the required number? Very few.

Of course the sellers can hold stamps for buyers for a number of weeks which results in the buyer forgetting what they have bought and they end up buying duplicates from other sellers.

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cardstamp
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09 Jun 2019
08:12:42pm

Approvals
re: Just An Observation

Many of my older books ( which would have shown more variety ) did expire in the past month or so - since I was away for awhile while I was in the process of selling my house and moving. Again, I am not talking about Sales but just views. The overall views by book have gone down a lot lately. You would have to view the book to see if the price for a certain stamp was too high - so pricing could explain lower sales in general. Although, I think my books do offer a greater variety of stamps and are targeted in smaller year ranges than many others . I do have many regulars that tell me they appreciate the fact that I do offer material that is not the same common issues they see in other books but have a better variety overall. There used to be more books in total at any one time - so the so called competition was always there. I am going to monitor what happens for the rest of the year to see how it goes. Steve

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Calstamp
09 Jun 2019
09:13:35pm
re: Just An Observation


Steve...

Am relatively new to SOR. So perhaps my perspective is a bit different.

One of the most valued aspects is the approval books. Have completed successful purchases from a handful of members. My collecting interest is WW. Chiefly material through the 1960s. Chiefly postally-used. (Although I purchase MNH or MLH material for a few “focus” countries.)

IMO most of the pricing I have seen so far is fair. IOW competive with other stamp trading circuits or some of the dealers with whom I periodically patronize. Obviously as with any philatelic sales outlet, better material commands better pricing.

I particularly appreciate approval books which include catalogue numbers. As well as sellers who are willing to postpone invoicing until a decent balance is accrued. These two factors influence my purchasing decisions.

One small criticism is inclusion of damaged material in approval books. Can understand including the occasional “high catalogue” item assuming it is appropriately described/noted. But damaged 5 or 10-cent stamps detracts from the overall offering.

Prefer one- or two-county books. Or books which are region-specific (e..g., Scandinavia, former French Africa). And if including catalogue numbers is impractical, at least present the stamps in chronological order.

Appreciate many sellers use the approval books as a channel for selling off surplus material. Such as a recently purchased country collection. However, would rather a seller post 10 books from five countries than 10 books of material from a single country. The concern being possible duplicative purchases.

Just my two cents.

Jim in SoCal

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
09 Jun 2019
11:35:58pm
re: Just An Observation

Quote:

"You would have to view the book to see if the price for a certain stamp was too high"



Well, yes and no.

When you search for approval books, be it by seller, country, etc. The list you get has to columns that show the minimum and maximum prices for the stamps in each book. If, for example you list all the approval books with stamps from Germany, you will find 2/3 of the books have a minimum price of less than 10 cents minimum price. The other 1/3 books have a minimum price of 10 cents and higher. There's no need to look inside a book at that point. With that large a percentage of books selling for less than 10 cents, there would be plenty of books to look at before going to the higher priced books.

Ian and Cal, people should carefully read your comments, and follow your advice. This is especially so of all the damaged stamps that are contained in approval books, many at the same prices as undamaged stamps.

Some sellers then redo their books, and continually add the unsold damaged stamps to the books so that the percentage of damaged material gets higher and higher. I have seen the same damaghed stamps in some sellers' approval books for a number of years. To me, that seems to be a big waste of time to try to sell damaged common stamps at any price since they have a very scant chance of selling.

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Brechinite
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Neddie Seagoon from The Telegoons
10 Jun 2019
05:28:59am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Just An Observation

The number of views is a guide to the popularity of that country or area.

How many views are totally dependent on the percentage of the book which has already been sold.

I do not look at books that have already sold 50% of their items.

I am sure that some members do not view books that have sold less than 50% because they think all the best stamps are gone.

We all know the vast majority of a book sales happen within the first few days.

My personal ethos as a seller is that if a book sells 50% or less, within a month, de-activate it because it will not sell any more and it clogs up my system.

The Approval Books system here is unique, fantastic, well thought out and has been great for both Buyers and Sellers.

Long may it continue.


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angore
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Enjoying the little works of art
10 Jun 2019
07:28:01am
re: Just An Observation

A few comments from a buyer. I am in the US and as a rule I tend to ignore non-US sellers especially if I cannot find a significant number to justify postage.

Including a catalog number is a good way to get me to study especially when listings are in cost order not catalog or year order. If the images are not clear or out of focus I will not look very hard. As of late I have purchased little as countries I like are not being posted.

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cardstamp
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10 Jun 2019
10:19:24am

Approvals
re: Just An Observation

Sorry I opened up a "can of worms" by my initial post. It was just something I was observing lately. I was speaking about the number of views when a new book is posted. In my case it used to be averaging about 40 views in the first two weeks now it is about 20. It could be true that many buyers are not just interested in my books anymore and just ignore them - that could be the real answer. That is why quite some time ago - I mentioned it would be nice to have some feedback provided to the sellers so we could entertain changes. (Constructive Criticism)
First of all - I NEVER INCLUDE DAMAGED Stamps. As I am putting a book together I toss them out and if one slips thru and I notice a damage after the fact - I let the buyer know and refund them immediately. If one slips thru still and a buyer contacts me that there is a problem - I send them a refund and tell them to toss the stamp.
As for providing cat #'s - I use to do this for all books - and it was quite an extra burden - so I started quite some time ago providing the Scott # on any stamps greater than 25 cents. When I was providing Scott #'s on lower value stamps - I did not see any difference in the sales. My books are organized in year order - so it should be easy to determine on the common stamps what they are.
Finally, besides the feedback I would like - it would be nice to have a place where buyers can indicate what they are looking for. A wishlist ! It would help me determine what books I could put up. When I do try to put up something different - the book seems to fall flat. (Current example - my newest book on Cambodia - I might as well take it down - because there seems to be no interest in it). That's why I keep going back to the more common countries.
Anyone reading this - who has any feedback - please feel to send me a message. No need to keep beating a dead horse here !! Thanks, Steve

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
10 Jun 2019
10:52:59am
re: Just An Observation

steve,

delighted the conversation is ongoing. Seems that people are adding to it.

Myself, I'm a cover collector, especially interested in US rates and tied seals. If you got those, let er rip.

David

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
10 Jun 2019
11:11:00am
re: Just An Observation

Quote:

" it would be nice to have a place where buyers can indicate what they are looking for. A wishlist !"



We already have that in the Classified Ads section of the Discussion Board. The topic is called "Stamps I want to Buy".
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cardstamp
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10 Jun 2019
12:01:51pm

Approvals
re: Just An Observation

I have looked in there - but most of the time they are looking for something specific - like I was able to sell an old color gauge folder someone was looking for and I had a spare. Maybe buyers from approval books should be told to put their desires in there more ! I sometimes get a message from a few of my regulars asking me if I had any of this or that !! Steve
P.S. David I do not have anything you are looking for. If I did - I doubt I would even put them in an approval book - I would probably do an auction or put them up elsewhere

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
10 Jun 2019
12:35:32pm
re: Just An Observation

If someone wants something that you have, you do not have to put it in approval books or auctions. Stamporama is not a commercial site, and receives no financial benefit from the sale of items here. People are free to work out "backdoor" deals, trades, sales, etc., all they want. You just can't cancel an auction lot that has a bid on it, or any item that has sold in the auctions or approvals. As we say elsewhere on the site, just be knowledgeable to whom you are selling, and from whom you are buying.

Now and then we talk about the rules here, but actually, Stamporama is a much more relaxed site than most.

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Brechinite
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Neddie Seagoon from The Telegoons
10 Jun 2019
02:26:38pm

Auctions - Approvals
re: Just An Observation

I have said this previously over the last few years.

You cannot please all the people all of the time.

Sellers and Buyers are unique individuals.

Their wants, needs, desires and foibles are individual to them. Some we like, some we dislike.

The Stamporama System allows flexibility, choice and individualism within a wide set of guidelines whether you are a buyer or seller.

It enables us to discuss, educate and learn all things philatelic.

Where else can you find such a System?


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cardstamp
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10 Jun 2019
03:59:15pm

Approvals
re: Just An Observation

I have sold stamps off-line quite often here. If someone asks me for something I may have - I will work off a want list or I can tell them what I have. Also, since I sell stamps on Hipstamp - I have several buyers who tell me what they see over there that I may have and I pull those stamps for them and merge them into an invoice over here - so they can have one stop shopping - less shipping fees. I do that quite often. I just take down the stamp over there manually and add it to an invoice here. I probably should not mention that to the powers that be over there - I may get banned ! Steve

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
10 Jun 2019
10:54:09pm
re: Just An Observation

I don't see why you should get banned. HipStamp has an Ebay sync. If a stamp sells on Ebay, it is closed on HipStamp. There is no fee assessed against the seller from HipStamp. I don't see any difference if you sell it to someone here, or if you had the stamps at a stamp show or brick and mortar store.

Before anyone thinks it all right, Stamporama rules prohibit selling an item here and also somewhere else. We have had problems with cross-selling in the past.

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cardstamp
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10 Jun 2019
11:25:06pm

Approvals
re: Just An Observation

I never have anything here that is not EXCLUSIVE to SOR. When I close out a book - I move any worthwhile extras over to HS. I always try to post here first unless it is a more expensive stamp. I was just joking about being banned over there. At one time in the forums over there - I thought there was a time when they did not want any mention of other selling sites.Maybe that was during the awful SGM era !!

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
11 Jun 2019
02:45:16am
re: Just An Observation

SGM was simply bad voodoo. A horrible period. Glad it's long over.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
11 Jun 2019
12:38:20pm
re: Just An Observation

Since we're "Observing"..
Note that my experiences have been just in the USA Approval and Auction categories.

The first thing that hurts sales are sellers who don't have enough items up for sale in the auction. Buyers need to be able to buy enough to justify the postage / transaction cost. When you've got ten items up for ten cents each... and you want $1 postage, nobody will be buying these items!

I have taken to looking at a sellers total offerings in both Auction/Approvals before placing my first buy or bid to make sure there's enough to buy!

Second issue is in the USA Auction category. As of a few minutes ago there were 849 lots available. Sounds good until you note that 605 of those are all from one seller, who has listed USA full sheets at pretty much full retail prices.

The first thing I do when I get to that category is sort down to "Exclude" that seller. But I'm sure a lot of buyers don't know how to do that, and after looking at page after page of that same seller's stuff, they just click off and go away!

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nobozo
14 Jun 2019
04:56:27pm
re: Just An Observation

I buy a lot on SOR. Because postage to anywhere outside USA and Canada has gone up so much, I tend to ignore sellers who aren't in the US or Canada. However, every now and then, a non-North American seller lists enough of what I'm interested in to make it worthwhile. I've started to recognize who these might be so I spend more time looking at their pages.

Some sellers create approval pages on which the stamps are very hard to see in detail. Since I'm trying hard to not buy stuff I already have I don't spend much time looking at their stuff.

Some sellers sell mostly very common stuff, so I might just look at the first and last pages of their listings just to confirm what they're selling.

I've bought lots of great stuff on SOR so I hope it continues. It's a great service. But, from where I sit, stamp collecting in general is diminishing in numbers, although I suspect, but can't prove that the collectors who remain are spending as much, if not more, than they ever have.

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
14 Jun 2019
06:22:52pm
re: Just An Observation

I am puzzled by this thread.

50% of all online traffic is now done using mobile devices, this website has content wider than screen, clickable elements too close together, text too small to read, and the viewport is not set. This is not my analysis, this is Google's analysis of this site. In other words, half of all users are finding that using this site is very difficult (at best).

But answers to the questions this thread raises are easily answered by looking at the server log files compared to the same time from previous years. Is traffic growing, shrinking, or staying the same? Is the amount of time that users spend on the site growing, shrinking, or staying the same? There is no need for speculation, the server log files provide real data which clearly show everything a person needs to understand website traffic over time. This is critical information for sellers to know, without it they are working in a vacuum.

This is the same as a retail brick and mortar store working hard to understand what changes they might make to help sales but not accounting for the fact that the road construction in front of the store has dropped the number of cars passing by 50%.

Note: these traffic metrics need to come directly from the server log files, not from some 3rd party website which tries to extrapolate traffic using other, less reliable means.
Don

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