This time around we have Greg from Shipping Shield under the Glaring Spotlight. Cardsphere loves innovation, entrepreneurship, and stellar design in all things, and Greg's affordable, eco-friendly successors to the toploader deliver all of that. The product's also designed especially for people who do what Cardsphere users do: ship cards through the mail, so we thought getting the word out made a lot of sense! Cardsphere does not have a business relationship of any kind with Shipping Shield, we just think the product is great.
Here are Greg's answers to the questions we collected from the Cardsphere community.
How did you get into playing magic?
My cousin introduced me to the game when I was around eleven years old. He taught me the game but it never really took.
Fast forward many years and I joined the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program as a Big Brother. My Little Brother was in 6th grade and told me about this game he wanted to play, Magic: the Gathering. Return to Ravnica had just come out and he brought me to the local game store. We went there a couple times to learn to play and of course collect some cards! I've been playing and collecting since then.
What was your inspiration for developing Shipping Shields?
No surprise here. The biggest reason was COVID hitting and the skyrocketing prices of top loaders and semi-rigids. There seemed to be no end to the high prices and no obvious alternate solution. It bugged me that there was nothing out there and I basically said to myself, you're a mechanical design engineer, develop a solution. That's really all it took to start working on designs.
Also knowing most top loaders were a single use item, it seemed like an awful waste of plastic to me. Lastly, all the top loaders are made in China, and COVID caused massive issues due to being sourced internationally. My goal was to source locally so any possible future disruptions with China would not affect my new product.
What was the development process like? Were there any discarded designs?
The first step was to find out if I could find a cost-effective design that would not only compete with the current high market price for toploaders, but continue to do so when prices started to lower again. I investigated businesses that make custom boxes online, but even getting a quote for 50,000 units, the best price I could find was $0.23 each. After politely informing them my idea wouldn't be possible for more than $0.10 each, they answered that then it was not possible.
Because of that, I gave up for 2-3 months. And grew even more frustrated as prices continued to climb, so I decided to try local suppliers. I provided a hand drawing with my idea and a week later they came back with a quote exactly in my price range. We worked on refining the design over the next 2 months while I fundraised like crazy to get the money for the first order. That first design I gave them looked nothing like what I have now and it's for the better.
What improvements over traditional top loaders do Shipping Shields bring?
There's absolutely many benefits of the Shipping Shield over the standard top loaders. First is the carrying capacity. You can fit 3-4 cards in the standard top loader before you're out of room. As anyone who sells cards in volume knows, order's over 3 cards are extremely common. I designed Shipping Shield to fit 10x cards while still being able to put your order in a PWE with standard postage (for reference, 10x cards in a PWE does need the extra ounce stamp though).
This leads into the next benefit: weight! Shipping Shields are lighter than toploaders, reducing the need for those extra ounce stamps. They're even lighter than oversize semi-rigid toploaders. You also get 360° protection unlike the toploader/team bag combo where cards are in a penny sleeve NEXT to the protection and not being protected.
Speaking of the team bag, it's no longer needed which means one less step in the order process! BUT if you're worried about water and the fact the Shipping Shield is cardboard, I designed it to fit inside the standard teambag, eliminating any need for concern!
The next perk is the folding flap. We've all seen tape being an issue caused by sellers closing up toploaders. Cards shift in the mail and make contact with the tape. While there are obvious workarounds (I personally used a piece of paper to close the opening,) they're all extra work and time. That simple folding flap prevents the cards from ever escaping its protection during shipping and any tape used to hold the flap down has no way to make contact with the card.
As I stated above, these are both eco friendly (100% recycled cardboard) and made in the USA.
Lastly, if you'd like your logo printed on one of these it's possible! The only real catch here is you're going to want to order A LOT to make it financially reasonable as low volume printing can be expensive.
What kind of feedback are you getting from your first wave of sales?
Overall feedback has been extremely positive! I've sent out anywhere from 200 to 11,000 Shipping Shields to individuals and businesses. Some people love that they're eco friendly while others love that I was cheaper then the going retail rate of toploaders. Everyone so far has expressed positive feedback about the design and functionality of the Shipping Shield.
How quickly did the first batch sell?
I started selling these on Dec 11. Between Dec 11th and Dec 31 I had sold about half of my initial 50k inventory. Then I partnered with Rogue Duelist Trade to help promote and sell my remaining inventory. On Jan 1st he released his video featuring my product and we sold my remaining inventory of 26,000 Shipping Shields in about 30 hours!
Who is the ideal customer for Shipping Shields?
Anyone that sells CCG and sports cards! I can literally sell in any quantity I want so if you don't sell much and only want 200 I've got you covered. If you want 10,000 I can do that. If you want a pallet, my supplier drop ships!
As long as I've got the inventory I can sell in any quantity you need.
Any exciting plans for the future? Will there be more items in the Shipping Shield product line?
I've had tremendous feedback from sellers asking for variations of the Shipping Shield or other other designs that filled their needs. I have every intention of expanding my product line once I've got Shipping Shields better established.
I wish I could provide a timeline for that but the quicker I can grow the quicker I can start to provide other options.
Is there anything else people need to know about Shipping Shields?
Shipping Shields replace toploaders, not envelopes! People have expressed an interest in trying to mail cards inside Shipping Shields directly, but they are too small to be mailed on their own! Stick with your regular envelopes for now, and be assured that the cards inside are perfectly safe with our environmentally-free protection.