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2014 Industry Summit: Topps discusses changes to redemption system

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

LAS VEGAS – Redemptions, more redemptions and a couple of new, but old products.

Those were the topics of Topps’ corporate address at the 2014 Industry Summit on Monday.

Topps executives are aware of the problems with redemptions: too many of them, many take too long to be fulfilled – if they even are – and not enough updates.

Topps discussed some of the changes it has made to the redemption system meant to get cards into the hands of collectors sooner, including eliminating unreliable signers and finding better moments to pursue autographs.

Last year, Topps had many redemptions in products such as Finest and Topps Chrome.

“Chrome and Finest baseball had a lot of redemptions because we put an undue amount of pressure on rookies to sign cards,” a Topps official said.

Those requests came in-season, when players have less time to sign autographs due to games, training and travel.

Topps is now getting players to sign during spring training, which is about five months ahead of schedule this year. The aim is to have less than a three percent redemption rate in its products.

There are some instances where redemptions will happen such as with Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. Topps said contractually, Koufax and Mays only sign about twice a year.

The redemption process is problematic for consumers. A collector submits a redemption and even if the card is ready within a couple of weeks, it still takes several more weeks to get that card through the system, adding unnecessary time to the process.

To fix this issue, Topps has moved the redemption process in-house where it was being outsourced previously. Topps said this should cut down the process by weeks.

In welcomed redemption news, Topps did say that Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper signed all but about 25 of his outstanding redemptions and collectors should be seeing those cards soon. The company recently renewed Harper to an exclusive autograph deal.

Other notes from the corporate address:

- Topps announced new products on its baseball schedule including Topps Tek, Stadium Club and a high-end release Topps Dynasty.

- Topps has a partnership with the NFL to support Play 60 and will put baseball card commercials on television networks such as Nick, Cartoon Network and Disney to promote products to children.

- Topps admitted that the first seven baseball releases of the year are making less money compared to last year. While Topps David Reel did not disclose figures, he said some products were doing better than others were, but that Topps was sacrificing profitability for brand equity. By under-producing a product such as a Heritage, it creates a stronger chase factor.

- The Spring Fever promo begins March 31 at hobby shops.

Susan Lulgjuraj is an editor at Beckett Media. You can email her here with questions, comments or ideas. Follow her on Twitter here. Follow Beckett Media on Facebook and Twitter.

12 Comments

Ron

I will believe it when I see it! Let’s see, in October Topps rep tells me my Mike Olt Inception card is in and ready for mailing. It will take four to six weeks to get my card. Call back in December, same story, Call back in late January and told the exact same thing, card is in and will be mailed in four weeks! It is now March 18 and no card. This is only one story as I have multiple redemptions outstanding with them. You can’t believe a word Topps says because they will blow smoke up you know what.

Posted March 18, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink
David Johnson

I will be interested to see the commercials they air on kids channels, and what products they actually show during the commercials.

Posted March 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
Al Nagel

What are the odds that Bryce Harper didn’t sign the 25 2012 Bowman Sterling Showcase Redemptions?
I’d guess about 100% of them aren’t signed. The question is: Did Topps even make the Showcase cards for Harper and Trout. Harpers was even shown on the sell sheet.

Posted March 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
Jason K

Panini had a much better solution to the redemption problem. Topps needs to take note.

Posted March 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

Panini better address this to because they are just as bad, I have 20 redemption 1 is over 2 years old 8 are over one year, 2 more will be over one year in 1 month, I don’t know where Jason k see this as a better, solution, all I saw was Panini address the problem with fake patches, maybe. I see the problem as trying to produce to much product. u have a company overwhelmed and its creating something they can not control.some will wait, but with the redemption I described above when is to long, I have written comments asking about redemption, in the provide space on the web site, no answers. I work days so I don’t have the time to call 10 times a year, just to hear, they are not signed yet. and as for replacement cards, that’s not good because the cards I redeem are the ones I want. the ones I paid for. best thing they can do is stop trying to give us the runaround. fix it wright, so you don’t have to get crap comments like this.

Posted March 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
Mike Pereira

Very happy Topps is looking not to make the same mistakes it did in the 90s and start to overproduce. The hobby is just starting to recover and add more fans. All we need is another 90s overproduction and people will again move on after seeing their stuff become worthless paper. The chase is one of the best parts of the hobby. Hopefully they can make some products that are cheap enough for the kids.

Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
Jason K

Charles, I was referring to Panini’s new “points” based redemption system that was discussed in another article as being a better system.

Posted March 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
Jeff Kruer

How can anyone believe Topps, considering all the erroneous lines they have said before. As they pretty much have a monopoly, they feel no need to actually care what the consumer experiences. I’m currently waiting on several redemption cards, some of which are over 2 years old. If they follow their latest approach, I’ll get something far less desirable than what they promised. More promises from Topps, but nothing changes. It just keeps getting worse. It’s a big part of why I spend my money elsewhere.

Posted March 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink
Patrick

That’s what we need, Topps bringing out 3 new sets. That’s the biggest problem the hobby(business) has. Too many different sets. It all leads to the other issues. There are so many sets that the players have too many autos to sign. That’s why there are sticker autos and redemptions. Each card company has too many sets to count. They need to cut down. I mean you need maybe a couple low end, a couple mid end, and a couple high end. Add a throwback and maybe a rookie/prospect set and that’s all you need. So maybe 8-10 different sets. 2013 saw more than 20 different Topps sets. It’s getting out of control!

Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
Greg

The whole redemption process is a joke. I had to wait a year for a Ben Roethlisburger/Dan Marino dual autograph #/10. Upper Deck took forever and I still didn’t get the card. That’s the exact reason why I prefer vintage stuff with no autographs. If I want to get closer to the game, I’ll go to one. If I get an autograph at the game that’s awesome, if not I will enjoy the game.

Posted March 20, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink
Jason

I’ve actually had very positive experiences with Topps and the many redemptions I have submitted.
The ones I’ve wanted to wait on I’ve always received and the other ones where I could care less about the player I have taken the replacement and almost always done better and never worse in regards to value.

My biggest concern however is the fact they are getting more autos done during spring training. I really hope this does not mean more sticker autographs. If I never saw another one of those again that would make me really happy.

Posted March 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
Chris borden

Got a 2013 Topps Ultimate Chase Redemption 1/1 (non specific) in December out of a box of Update. Called several times since to find out when I will get card and was told it is in the works. My account still says pending, five months later. I hold out zero hope of getting this card anytime soon if at all. How does this company get away with this?

Posted April 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

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