/ Finance

The Theory of Drop-Shipping

There’s a way to use Cardsphere that I haven’t used myself but which others have used to send me cards, and it has to do with how badly I want certain cards and how much of a hurry I'm in for those cards.

You see I look at Cardsphere as free money. Sure, I paid a little for stamps and shipping supplies, but I’ve turned the stuff I didn’t want into stuff I did want, at a much better rate than a buylist. Money here is worth about 30% more than money on other sites that sell cards, because most trades happen in the 70% range. We all know that. We’re all here.

However, there’s a different way to do things, and it involves using other sites that sell cards, in order to gain credit here on Cardsphere.

Let me explain with a recent example.

guildbasic

I’ve decided to switch my Cube lands to nonfoil guild basics. They are a unique twist on basics and something I don’t think will be done again for a while. I put in for 12 of each. There’s going to be 20 guild basics total, so I’ll have 240 lands instead of 200 as I currently do, but I want to have the extras. I made sure I was the highest offer at about 80% for them, so about 75 cents for some of the Islands.

A trader on Cardsphere took a lot of my money, sending me about 40 of the lands, and gave me a tracking number. When it arrived I was surprised to see that it was from TCGPlayer and not an individual. What this person did was fill a shopping cart with my items, paid for them, and had them shipped directly to me. This is known as drop-shipping.

Let’s look at some examples for how this might work.

vampoffer

Here we have a 347% offer for Vampire Champion, a common from Rivals of Ixalan. That’s a huge offer but it makes sense to me. Ebay doesn’t usually deal in nonfoil commons. TCG requires a $2 minimum order. What if you just really want this card by itself? Cardsphere is your ticket, but you’ve got to make the profit be at least the value of a stamp, so this person is offering 7x the value.

vamptcg

The cheapest version is 27 cents, so that’s not just a profit of 39 cents, but it’s Cardsphere funds, worth more!

Granted that’s one card for 40 cents. A little digging and we can do much much better, though. I’m not terribly interested in making a few pennies at a time. Free money is free money, especially when you didn’t have to ship the cards yourself. Save your time and energy, let the pros handle it this time.

While there’s some offers that are way over, those tend to be low-amount cards. I’m offering 80% to 150% on some promos for my cube, just to motivate people to send them to me. Some of us are collectors who want all of a card, or all possible versions of a card. My favorite case of this is the Cardsphere user who’s looking for 1,000 foil Haze Frogs. Maybe that’s a speculator move, as you’re hoping to pick up a large quantity of a card before it spikes.

I can respect that. I am speculating on a few cards myself, though none to the tune of 1,000. The most I have of anything is about forty copies of Prophet of Kruphix, which I got cheaply right before it was banned in Commander (sigh.) The danger of having 1,000 of a card on your wantlist, and the stored value to have them sent to you, is that someone just might take you up on that offer.

ox-offer

Yes, this person is offering 150% on foil Pillarfield Ox. Thirty-five cents each, not even worth the stamp to send one.

TCG, though, has far more than one.

Ox-on-tcg

For this one printing of the Ox, there’s nine copies just at 20 cents or less. That’s 15 cents a copy which is purely free money for me, and Cardsphere funds at that, so it’s free money plus 30%!

I admit, I toyed with my cart a little and this user nearly got 100 oxen sent his way by me, I would have gotten $35 in CS balance and yet only spent about $18. Easy money!

Drop-shipping on Cardsphere isn’t just about the arbitrage. It’s also about making trades happen which otherwise wouldn’t. It’s also about maximizing the value of money you spend, and an extremely effective way to take advantage of store credit and special offers. If you’ve built up TCG credit during kickback events, or you had a great buylist session with a vendor, this can be another way to increase your margins.

For instance, around the holidays, eBay had more than one 15% off coupon. Let’s say I want a Savannah for my Ur-Dragon deck. For the sake of easy math, I’ll put the retail price of the card at $100. I’m offering 90% on a NM one, in order to be the top offer. You, the enterprising soul that you are, will be able to spend just $85 and get $90 worth of credit, which will then go on to buy you around $120 in cards. Money here is just worth more, and drop-shipping is a technique that can maximize the value you gain.

Cliff Daigle

Cliff Daigle

I've been playing Magic since 1994 and had serious financial interest since about 2001, when I sold out to pay for a new transmission. I'm a high school teacher by day and a father of two.

Read More