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Can we get final checklists sooner? Manufacturers say ‘no’

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

LAS VEGAS – When it comes to checklists, one question always comes up – why can’t we get them sooner?

This was one of the hot topics during a manufacturer panel that featured representative from Topps, Upper Deck and Panini America at the 2014 Industry Summit in Las Vegas.

Collectors and dealers may not like the answer. It seems the earliest companies can get a final checklist is the day of pack out because the biggest hurdle is the autographs.

New autographs may come in a week before a product is packed, or a confirmed signer may not show signs of returning their autographs any time soon.

“Even 30 days out is tough for us,” said Topps’ Vice President of Product Development, Clay Luraschi. “We are making changes to the checklist, especially with autograph subjects up until the day of pack out. We would like to get the most accurate checklist to collectors in the most timely manner, but it’s a challenge to promise a specific checklist that far out.”

The other companies agreed that a month before release was difficult. The product changes even that close to a release date.

“Thirty days out, that is difficult for us too because of accuracy,” said Upper Deck’s Grant Sandground, Director of Product Development. “If you’re putting out a full checklist at that point, it only goes downhill from there because you are losing players. … Thirty days out, I don’t want to lie to consumers or retailers because we know it is going to have some deletions in there.”

The companies recognize the importance of checklists as dealers and collectors often make buying decisions based on names in the set. They want to know if their favorite player will have an autograph or how well their team is represented in a product.

However, the companies could make available at least a base card checklist earlier.

“Thirty days is challenging, no doubt about it,” said Panini’s Jim Stefano, Senior Director of Product Development. “We want to provide you with the most accurate information, which is created based on hits at the box level, the case level. These hits take time and a lot of energy, and a lot of math.

“But you have the right to know as far out as possible. We had a discussion at the distributor meeting. We will provide checklists at 30 days out, however, they will not be the final checklist.”

All companies stated that checklists should be available the day of release on their respective websites. All of them have moved toward digital checklists with the old paper checklists not often seen in products.

However, some dealers requested the companies bring them back because it may lead to some collectors chasing sets again.

“The cost to do that is very minimal,” Stefano said. “It’s a great idea, one that has been done before and one we definitely will take back and immediately address. Obviously, some rosters change as we get closer to the release of the product, but we will take this right back. It’s not a cost issue at all.”

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.

2 Comments

Why all the talk about getting checklists out 30 days before release when they’re having trouble making checklists available even on the day of release? Two weeks out would be ideal, one week should be the minimum, but their target seems to be they day of release and even that is a goal and not a hard deadline. Non-standard releases like wrapper redemptions and hobby shop promotions sometimes never get an official checklist (even some major Topps products from 2012 never got a proper checklist). If the issue is the pack out date, then put posting the checklist on the schedule X number of days after pack out. No need to complain that “30 days out is tough” or settle for preliminary checklists, just identify when the checklists are final and make posting them part of the standard process. This has nothing to do with autographs, it is all about deficiencies in their schedule and processes. These companies are understaffed and poorly run; problems with simple tasks like posting checklists are symptoms of much larger problems.

Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

I think the facing websites for checklists are below average. They all could use complete overalls. Many collectors go to sites like cardboardconnection and sportscardradio as the layouts are much simpler to navigate than dropdowns, pdfs and excel output/prints.

With product being broken via Group Break at an increasing rate of 10-20% of total product run, manufacturers may want to start thinking about that community and what they need to know out of the checklists. Most do not care about what players are in each subset. Rather they care about how each is represented and the quality of that representation. Excel versions available for download is key to analysis.

Improvements:
Topps could put both a PDF and excel version and put ALL serial number information on their checklist. If a card is serial numbered, people want to know the serial number. The PDF design is just a list with some graphics. Instead, they could have a web page for each set with information that people want to know about.

People are used to Panini’s set up but its not that efficient. Many collectors just go to cardboardconnection.com to navigate easily on one page. Just have each set represented one page and people can scroll up and down. The excel version download is beautiful.

Upper Deck checklists are basically web facing excel output. It is kind of confusing just getting to the area where the checklists are hosted. The area for checklists needs some remodeling as it not an easy read. Again people rather just go to cardboardconnection or sportscardradio which have better layouts and much information.

Posted March 20, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

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