Puca Pals: Week 1 Report – Getting my Feet wet

Puca Pals is a weekly/bi-weekly article I write to chronicle my adventures on Puca Trade, the online trading system where Magic Players around the world trade with each other. In the articles, I will be discussing what cards I’ve traded away, the total amount of shipping I’ve paid, the total profit I’ve made after shipping costs, and what cards I’ve received in return. If you have any questions regarding the website feel free to ask. If you want to make your own account there, click on this unique invite link of mine and get started!

 

The First Week: February 10th – February 17th, 2015

 

The Devil’s hands have been busy . . . ever since signing up for Puca Trade’s service I’ve been on a tear, sending cards day after day after day. It wasn’t always this way though. When you initially sign up for Puca Trade, you have a 10 card limit set on your account until you are deemed to be a fast sender without any problems. This limit is lifted after your first card is received for a majority of people.

When I started off, I was a little hesitant to send any really expensive cards, but I wanted to see what the system was all about. I tested the waters by sending some cheaper cards that I would be okay with losing in case something went wrong. Luckily they were all received without any problems. Being that I was limited to how many cards I could send that first week, today’s article should be somewhat small.

Cards Sent

  • Vorapede
  • Mimic Vat
  • Spirit Mantle
  • Gilded Lotus
  • Consuming Aberration
  • Prime Speaker Zegana
  • Firespout
  • Adaptive Automaton
  • Tooth and Nail
  • Drogskol Reaver
  • Helm of Possession
  • Mindcrank
  • Savageborn Hydra

 

My Intial Cost and Total Shipping

 

I had originally bought a lot of Prime Speaker Zeganas for 200 yen when I thought they were a steal, but have been sitting on them ever since. I was hoping to make some of that loss back so sending it out for less than 200 points was fine by me. Aside from that, all of the other cards were pack opened or won as a prize. Since I didn’t spend cash on the single cards directly (and it’s hard to say if the packs were prizes or ones that I bought), I’m going to treat them as if they didn’t cost me anything.

Most of my cards cost 110 yen to ship overseas, but the Prime Speaker was sent to Malaysia and only cost 90 yen. If you’re shipping from Japan/Asia, keep it in mind that South East Asia is cheaper than North America or Europe. I spent 1410 yen ($11.78) on shipping for my first 13 cards. When added to what I spent to get the cards, that puts me at -1610 yen at the moment.

 

Profit made and how long it took to send cards

 

I made a pretty good profit on Gilded Lotus. This card sees little play in Japan and can be picked up for between 100-200 yen most of the time, but on Puca Trade I was able to get 596 points for it. Even if I had paid cash for it, I still would have been doubling my money. Tooth and Nail was a card I got out of one of the few packs of Modern Masters I opened and I was happy to get 782 points for it. I was happy to get rid of Mindcrank for 227 points because they are usually only around 30 yen here in stores. If they were more popular on Puca trade, I could make a killing on them.

I recently had my full set of Tempest set over from the USA that had been sitting in my basement and had a lot of extra cards that I didn’t really need. It was great to get 371 points for my extra Helm of Possession. I was also rather satisfied to get 344 points for Adaptive Automaton.

During the first week, the fastest card received was my Adaptive Automaton at 3 days to Denmark. Pretty quick. On average the cards took about 7 days to arrive in places such as Malaysia, Spain, and Canada. I did have 2 cards that took 12 days to arrive, but I’m guessing that was because the players are very slow at getting around to checking their mail or updating their Puca profile. I would recommend that everybody check their mail often when expecting cards from Puca Trade, and to promptly finish the transaction to be polite. It would make things much more efficient.

Subtracting the cost of shipping, as well as supplies (35 yen on each card for Toploaders, envelopes, and baggies), I made a profit of 1816 points (or 2173 yen). It doesn’t seem like much but it was a good start. I was able to get used to packaging my cards correctly and going to the post office to send them out promptly. Shipping might have cut into about 46% of my total profit, but I’ll be sure to reduce that in the future with my new techniques.

 

What I Received/What I Learned

During the first week, you really only have those first 500 points that you get for signing up and filling out your profile, so I didn’t get much. During my first week, I had a person send me a Grafdigger’s Cage (from Kyoto, Japan) and an Ashcloud Phoenix. Considering what I traded away, I saw that as a distinct upgrade. The Ashcloud Phoenix was received in less than Near Mint condition I thought, with a few scratches and spots, but the Grafdigger’s Cage was in perfect condition.

After receiving the Phoenix in that condition, I changed my profile to let traders know that if I received a card in less than near mint in the future, I would be asking for a point discount/refund. Since then I’ve received nothing but great quality cards, so at the moment it seems like that was a fluke. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again. At the end of this first week, I also made the decision that it wasn’t financially smart to be sending these low value cards overseas for 30-70 point profit margins. If I was going to do well with Puca Trade, I needed to send more expensive cards, or at least double up on shipments so I can make more. This is where I also decided to look at people’s profiles after locking in a trade and sending something else they wanted as well. It might only be an extra 80-150 points, but it makes the profit margin much better in the long run.

Overall, I found my first week with Puca Trade to be a success and was ready to do a lot more.

 

Two Sides of the Coin – Selling Vs Trading MTG cards online

 

As a special feature of this first Puca Trade article, I’d like to present you with the experiences of two Magic players living in Japan and how they have used both Puca Trade and selling Magic cards online to profit from the game. There is definitely money to be had on both sides of the coin, but I’d like you hear it from people that have been doing it a lot longer than I have.

 

“Kamiken”

‘Kamiken’ has lived in Nagoya for a few years and has become a fixture of the Magic shops in the area, mostly as a shrewd trader and buyer. He’s always out hunting for deals and has made a lot of profit by flipping cards he bought for cheap in Japan and getting rid of them online, overseas, and through Puca Trade. The other day I was able to ask him some questions about his experiences with Puca Trade and this is what he had to share.

-How long have you been selling/trading cards online?

I have been trading cards online for about a year now.

-Why do you do it?

I do it because the trading in Japan is non existent and it allows me to make money through arbitrage.

 

-What are the advantages of selling/trading cards online in your opinion? What are the drawbacks?

The advantages are being able to take advantage of other markets. The disadvantages is that you have to take shipping and lost mail into account in your profit margin.

 

-When you were first starting out, what problems did you have and how did you solve them?

I have yet to have any problems. I have been very careful with who I ship to and what I ship.

 

-What advice would you have for people that might want to follow in your footsteps and do the same thing you are doing now?

The advice I have is for you to take time and do the research. If you are using the difference between 2 markets it will take at least an hour of research daily to keep up with both markets.

 

-How should you build your profile to maximize your ability to trade/sell cards? What is important to tell your ‘customers’?

Focus on things where there is profit to be made. Build the profile with what you have to offer and what you want. Be careful when dealing with cards below NM. Also always be honest and build a reputation.

 

-What’s the most expensive card you’ve sent?

The most expensive card I have sent is a foil Japanese Sarkhan the Dragon Speaker when it was $90.

 

-Where have you sent your cards overseas? Did you ever have any problems with the postal system of certain countries?

I have shipped to every continent except South America. Their postal system is a bit sketchy. I also tend to avoid Eastern Europe.

 

-What tips do you have on packaging and ensuring that the cards you send are in received in great condition?

For packaging send at least a set of 2 cards in a top loader sleeved in a perfect fit. Or 1 card in a perfect fit with another junk card as space filler. Place that into a singles bag that you get from card shops or old card sleeve packaging. It keeps things from getting damaged by water.

 

-Is it easy to turn a profit or difficult? What’s the best way to maximize your profit while doing what you’re doing?

Online trading can be profitable, but it depends on your location on what kind of profits you make. Currently I double my money from each trade online even after shipping, but I focus on a narrow set of cards to do this. When doing this it is sometimes better for small volume traders to focus on 100-200 cards and make that their market.

 

Ron Ebisawa, A.K.A. “Homarid”

I first met Ron through Twitter about a year ago. He’s hardcore trader who goes to all of the major Magic events in Japan and knows a lot of the people in Tokyo. He’s on the ball with trends in Magic the Gathering, and very insightful on a number of different formats. He also runs his own store on Ebay that has some great foil and rare Japanese cards. You can check it out at http://stores.ebay.com/Shikkokukan

 

-How long have you been selling/trading cards online?

I have been selling cards online for about 4 years now, but I just recently started trading online with pucatrade.
-Why do you do it?
At first, I was selling cards online to just turn my unneeded cards into money. At that time, I liked to play magic competitively, but did not have much of a budget. I had to constantly sell my cards that I was not using to keep on playing the best decks. I honestly wanted to just trade with other players, but game stores in Japan do not allow trading, and Japan’s online trading community is very undeveloped so it was not an option. After I got into university, I stopped playing magic as much as before, but I became interested in the financial aspect of the game so I started dealing with Magic cards to make a living. Right now, I do it as a hobby and a side job with a goal of starting my own online store.

 

-What are the advantages of selling/trading cards online in your opinion? What are the drawbacks?
I think the biggest advantage is that you can get the best deal for your cards. Online selling/trading allows you to connect directly with someone who wants your cards, so most of the time you can get a better deal than any other places. The drawbacks are definitely the time it takes and the problems that comes up. For each transaction that you make, at the very least, you will have to take time packaging and shipping out the card. After you ship out your card, you might receive some kind of complaint from the recipient. I think the most common ones will be about the card’s condition, the package being delayed, or the package not even arriving. It will take a significant amount of time for you to deal with these problems, and usually you will end up taking some kind of loss. When selling/trading cards online, I think it is important to make sure that it is worth your time, and be prepared of problems.

 

-When you were first starting out, what problems did you have and how did you solve them?
I did not face much problems when I was starting out because I knew what to do and what to expect. Since I did some research beforehand, I knew what kind of shipping methods are available, what to write in the item description of the listings, the best way to title listings, and other various information. I guess the only problem that I had was getting used to eBay. It took me a long time and lots of trials and error because there are so many flaws in their system.

 

-What advice would you have for people that might want to follow in your footsteps and do the same thing you are doing now?

I would advise them to always keep up with the market and make sure to know prices of different types of cards. I think Magic’s secondary market is very unique and sometimes volatile, but I also think it is easy to do well in it as long as you can keep adapting to the changes. In terms of selling, I would not advise them to sell mainly on eBay like me, because I do not think it is worth the large amount of fees for most people. I would instead advise them to sell mainly on sites like Facebook or yahoo auction (Japan’s eBay) instead.

 

-How should you build your profile to maximize your ability to trade/sell cards? What is important to tell your ‘customers’?
I think the most important part is to make sure that you do not get any bad feedback or a bad reputation. Then, I would recommend you to try to sound professional and not restrictive. As an example, when I talk to my customers, I try to sound professional because I think it makes me look trustworthy from my customer’s perspective and gives them confidence. In addition to this, I try to not write anything on my listings that sounds restrictive, because it could discourage my customers from buying my items. To be specific, some sellers writes something similar to “The import duties are not included in our price. It is your responsibility to pay them.”, “We do not ship to Spain or Italy”, or “The payment’s expected within 5 days” on their listings. But I try to not write anything similar to these, because I think it is better to deal with problems that comes up because of it after the customer buys something.

 

-What’s the most expensive card you’ve sent?
A Japanese foil Dack Fayden. Just to add, it was a combined shipment with another Japanese foil Dack fayden and a playset of Japanese foil Abrupt Decays.

 

-Where have you sent your cards overseas? Did you ever have any problems with the postal system of certain countries?
I have sent cards to so many countries overseas that it is difficult for me to name each one of them. But I am sure that I have never sent cards to any countries in Africa. I faced many problems shipping overseas in the past, but I am not sure if those problems lay in the destined country’s postal system, customs, or just the customer. However, I think the problem lays with customs most of the times. The most common complaint that I receive from my customers is about the package getting delayed for a ridiculous amount of time, and from my experience, the best explanation of why it happens is because the package gets stuck in the destined country’s customs.

 

-What tips do you have on packaging and ensuring that the cards you send are in received in great condition?
I think just using top loaders or plastic cases is enough protection. Personally, I like to use small plastic bags in addition to top loaders, because they kind of serve as bubble pads and protects the card from water damage. You can see how I package my cards on any of my listings.
http://stores.ebay.com/Shikkokukan

 

-Is it easy to turn a profit or difficult? What’s the best way to maximize your profit while doing what you’re doing?
It is really easy to just turn a profit. The difficult part is to keep on growing your inventory, popularity, and reputation while making profits. I think the best way to maximize profits is to make as many transactions as possible. The best way to do it for me is by listing as many cards as possible on multiple sites.

 

(Thanks to both Ron and Kamiken for taking the time to answer my questions about shipping online and using Puca trade! I hope you learned some things, and that their experiences made you feel a little more confident about shipping online with a service such as Puca Trade! )

 

Coming Next Time

 

I would like to do this article each week to talk about my progress, but that might not always be possible. With spoilers for Dragons of Tarkir coming soon, I might have a week or two where I don’t post something. In that case I’ll be trying to post something as soon as humanly possible, but don’t hold your breath. For now, it looks like week 2 from February 18th-25th will be happening next week, so be sure to join me then for updates and more information! If you have any other questions about puca trade or just want some advice on it, leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help.

If you enjoyed this article and are convinced to start a Puca trade account, feel free to thank me by using this link to give me a referral bonus! If you are already a member (and have a silver or gold account) and want to show your appreciation, I’m always willing to accept gifts of points ^_^. Just check out my profile and click the “SEND POINTS” button.Thanks for reading!

 

 

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