COVID & Our Pause
No one could’ve predicted the events of 2020. Our teams were traveling home from the GAMA Trade Show last March straight into quarantine due to the global pandemic. The severity of the situation caused us to take a step back and halt processes for the safety and wellbeing of our employees. We had to pause the Direct program for over 2 months while keeping our Marketplace open. Most of our team members began to work remotely to ensure the TCGplayer Marketplace would remain in great health while much of the rest of the world began the process of shutting down. During that time, leadership prepared for when Direct would re-open: what would that look like and how would our current processes change? 

Efforts Made To Keep Our Fulfillment Center Working Throughout the Pandemic
During the downtime, we reconfigured our working space to follow COVID safety protocols. This included making sure employees were 6 feet apart and broken up into groups. When we first reopened Direct in June 2020, we rolled it out to a limited number of product expansions to accommodate our employee structure as the team members returned to HQ. We brought employees back in waves to respect the safety of our teams as we worked on our new spacing arrangement. 

Our development teams doubled down on efforts to ensure our Marketplace was running strong for our sellers so they could continue selling in our changed world. As the year progressed and our sellers’ in-store interactions with customers became increasingly limited, the family of Direct programs, including
Store Your Products and Buylist, proved vital to many sellers, and enabled their businesses to remain open with an additional “low touch” revenue stream.

As the trading card market saw a huge boom throughout 2020, our Customer Service team redoubled efforts to keep up with a huge increase in ticket volume. In addition to expanding our support team, we have introduced Hobbie, our new chatbot designed to get buyers and sellers instant answers. We also added several new roles to our Customer Service team focused on training, quality assurance, and service improvement so we can continue to give users the best service possible when help is needed. These efforts have made a positive impact that will continue to reduce response times and increase our quality of Customer Service.

Community Support
Throughout the shutdown and the pandemic, we had some of our fellow storefront owners step in and write informational blog posts and videos to assist other sellers. We had Sy Johnston from Giga-Bites Cafe talk about Resiliency & Risk Management, touching on several ways to help minimize risk and maximize chances for success. Darcy Leech from Mind Sculpt Games jumped in with informational videos, going over the ongoing toploader shortage, the importance of pre-written responses for customer issues, and how to open and handle sealed product. The TCGplayer community is filled to the brim with sellers who are looking to help and this proved true during the pandemic. Throughout a variety of communication platforms, we’ve seen sellers embody our core values by reaching out to offer guidance and support to one another. 

Changes Made 
With the relaunch of Direct, we introduced our Store Your Products (SYP) program which helped sellers keep their store’s revenue going during the pandemic. The SYP addition to the Direct program proved to be essential to many sellers: having the ability to send in cards and let our Fulfillment Center do the work for them allowed sellers to focus on their family and their local community. Since its launch, SYP has been continuously updated with important feedback from participating sellers. Follow the link to read about all of the SYP updates we have made throughout the year.

Another service we unveiled within the Direct program is Sort, a premier service provided through Direct by TCGplayer that allows sellers to send in their unsorted and unorganized cards for our team of professionals to sort, condition and sell on our platform. For a fee, we will sift for cards above a set threshold, condition them, and list the inventory to your SYP account. It is a great way to clear your mind and your storage space by letting us do the work for you. Follow the link to learn more about the service including fees and how to sign up.

Possibly the biggest addition to the Direct family this past year was Pokémon cards! On June 29, 2020, Pokémon went live and Pokémon buyers discovered the amazing experience of buying through TCGplayer Direct. Behind the scenes and before the launch, our teams in the Fulfillment Center were hard at work ensuring all employees were properly trained in understanding the various differences between Pokémon cards, including identifying rarities.

Throughout the year, we introduced older sets into Direct, and we continue to celebrate the success of the addition while the product keeps blazing up with sales. The success can be attributed to our TCGplayer family of sellers and buyers, and the huge rise in Pokémon thanks to its popularity soaring via social media platforms. 

Company Growth 
Pokémon is not the only thing spiking; we've grown to 400+ employees and we’re showing no signs of slowing! Ranging from our Fulfillment Center, Customer Service Team, development teams, and key executive roles, we’re securing our future to be the best place to buy and sell your favorite trading cards and supplies. We have also expanded to a third floor within our current building, now occupying a total of 45,000 square feet.

We’ve experienced a lot of change throughout this past year and we’re excited to see what the future holds for us and our TCGplayer family. It is because of you that we continue to extend our reach, and strive for better technology and user experiences while never settling for less.