Friday, 24 August 2012

Changes Afoot at Delcampe

A Business Responding to its Customers! - Whatever Next?

Delcampe has announced changes to it's fee structure, in a move to remove the hordes of minimum-value stamp listings caused by their no-listing-fee policy. 

They are introducing a fixed-fee charge for each item sold of €0.15, in addition to the monthly commission. I think this is a marvellous initiative. Do a search of any basic stamp on Delcampe and you will often find hundreds listed, at €0.05. While you can exclude them from your search, these listings are costing Delcampe money in bandwidth, and slow down searches due to overloaded servers.

Delcampe listings can be set to relist, for free, almost indefinitely. This is another area that they are looking into, along with the following:
  • the possibility for a buyer to exclude the sales of a certain seller in a listing,
  • automatic closure of sales which have not received any visits for a certain period of time,
  • an automatic price reduction for items fulfilling certain conditions,
  • the insertion of at least one picture,  
  • changing unsold auctions to fixed price sales
Delcampe have created a Google doc for comments here. Why not express your opinion, as at least you know they are listening. I have suggested a minimum pixel size for pictures, to remove dross like this from their site (the seller, all of whose images are like this, had a starting bid of €2.00 on this)

I think Delcampe deserve the support of collectors the world over for responding to requests for change. 

Another global auction site would do well to respond to it's customers in a similar way!

(please note that I have no affiliation with Delcampe, other than previously selling on the site, and as a customer)


  1. This is anything BUT a good thing. I agree that dumping all the rubbish is of course a good idea, but not at the expense of sellers trying very hard to provide good value for money with excellent images. Delcampe have not listened to their clients. For years we have been campaigning to get trash off the site but it only needed a nudge to a few rogue traders to do so. I offer low value items but with very high quality images. This allows COLLECTORS to buy what they need for their collections. Delcampe is suggesting sellers group items together to form bigger lots. In order to balance up the fees I would need to group together twenty or so items to make a worthwhile lot thus forcing collectors to buy 19 stamps they don't want. Not only that, but they expect it all to be done by 1st September....thats 8 day for me to edit, rescan, reprice and relist 29,000 items! Clearly they have not thought this one through! Delcampe have come clean in their subsequent twitter/email by stating "more and more volume of these small items which costs us a lot of money and server capacity." I seem to recall ebay being cheap and reasonable a few years ago....look at it now! Ultimately it is the consumer that will have to swallow most of the cost, either by having to pay an additional £0.12 per item tax, or buying far more stamps than they require!

  2. Fortunately Delcampe has reviewed their decision to implement the changes on 1 September 2012. Current listings will not be affected until 4 months time. All new listings from 1 September 2012 will be subject to the new charges.

    The big test will be to see if the changes attract more buyers and increase sales for sellers.

  3. Clearly, we're going to disagree about this one. Do customers really want to buy a stamp for a few cents/pence then pay postage on it? Living in Australia, I know I don't and won't, even if I need that one stamp. I'll plough through hundreds more sellers listings, often buying what I don't want, to amortise the postage costs, IF I have to have that one stamp. Accordingly, I ignore the cheap stamps and focus on better issues. I would suggest the clearance rates on higher value items is much higher than the cheapies.

    Delcampe have extended the deadline, per the second email. Currently listed items won't be subject to the fee until January 1 2013. Any listings made prior to September 1 do not attract the fee either.

    I also take issue with "a few rogue traders". There are dozens upon dozens I could name and shame, as I see you did on Twitter today (of which I approve by the way!). Lazy, inconsiderate, amateurs that should sell kiloware.

  4. Delcampe have softened their timescale but not the basis of the changes. As far as smaller single item sales are concerned, I sold around 350 single items in the last calender month on Delcampe, across the world, and that is what is good about Delcampe. Buyers will pay shipping at cost plus a small surcharge for using Paypal. When the new charges apply this will cost an additional £42. We must remember two other things....we do not all have the money to buy larger lots to acquire a single stamp or two, bearing in mind that if a collector buys such a lot he will now have nowhere to dispose of those he doesn't want. Secondly, philately has been in decline for many years. I recall, when working in the GB Spec department at Gibbons in the early 80's their were far more collectors than there are now, with an increasingly aging client base nowadays. The internet and such sites have given a new lease of life, but if we are to encourage youngsters into the hobby they must be able to buy cheaply on the medium that they know and love; the can this possibly help? I am in the process of unpacking a couple of thousand pounds worth of really good quality stuff right now, with sets cataloguing at £1 to £3, which would normally list on Delcampe at between 50p and £1.50. I am now thinking, can I be bothered to give collectors the opportunity if Delc are simply going to take an additional 12-25% of the sale price? Why not simply trawl through Delcampe and arbitrarily remove offending items that either swamp or are of such poor quality that they will never sell...after all they do have mederators to do this!

  5. All fair comments, although my experience selling on Delcampe was a bit different, which is why I stopped.

    I listed around 200 lots as a test, mostly at fixed price. I agree with your motive to offer collectors good prices, and I listed at one third SG CV for precisely that reason. I listed good Commonwealth material, from £1 to £10, and I would say I sold ten items in four months. I closed all my items and won't sell again until the dross disappears. I think the reason I didn't sell is because they were lost in the mix.

    Perhaps Delcampe could look at the postage issue as another alternative? Personally, I think postage costs worldwide are acceptable. What sellers often charge is NOT acceptable, which, as I mentioned, is why I don't buy single cheaper items internationally. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that it's just not worthwhile. I prefer to buy my single items at Poppe-Stamps, where although I'll pay up to half catalogue, I can always find enough stamps to meet the minimum order ($10), with excellent scans, and cheap registered post from the Philippines.

    I couldn't agree more about the decline of philately, which is why this blog and my Facebook page exist!

  6. I will consider your sensible words before replying, it is 1.32am here and I have a real job to go to in the morning, but you haven't heard the last from me on this!!!! See you on the balcony!

  7. I hope your boss is kind! Just checked your Delcampe store. I might buy some MUH Australia from you as postage. Well under face.

    Enjoying the discussion, Goodnight!

  8. I also think this change on Delcampe is a complete disservice to both buyers and sellers. The vast majority of stamps and covers are "cheap", but none the less collectible and desired as individual items. While some collectors won't pay international postage for a low priced item, many, many collectors will. It's still cheaper and quicker than rooting through volumes and volumes of stockbooks at a stamp show or paying high gas prices to get there. Example, a friend's father gives me all the covers from the purchases he has made on Delcampe (2 banker boxes of covers, mostly foreign sellers, but he left in a lot of the invoices or penciled in his purchases on the backs of the covers) and the vast majority of the stamps were purchased for under $1.00 and it's not because he is cheap as I've seen the same collector plunk down $25,000 for one item of U.S. postal stationery. It's because he demands great service and quality of items, regardless of catalog. It's quicker, faster and cheaper to find some 20 cents stamps online than at any stamp show. Paying postage is the cheaper opportunity cost. As for myself I've sold close to 6,000 of them on Delcampe. I don't start anything over $1 and yet buyers come, but they are buying much more than a stamp or cover, they are buying my service and my feedback shows it. For shipping, I only charge what the post office charges, not a penny more or any other tacked on fees. I would rather have Delcampe given the option to buyers to block viewing of seller's items they don't like if the buyer choses to. Or create a "bargin bin" section, or a way to exclude cheap items from searches, but we all know that there's cheap items out there that are hard to find. Let's not outprice them from the website. People do get the same joy out of a stamp or cover that cost a buck or less as they do a high priced item.

  9. Again, all relevant points Battlestamps, and thanks for taking the time to share them. You obviously take great pride in your sales and level of service, as do I (albeit via EBay).

    However, at the end of the day, Delcampe is a business, not a co-operative, and they need to make money or fail. I posted these numbers elsewhere today:

    "At this moment, there are 15,234,722 items on Delcampe. A staggering 4,257,155 are for sale at less than € 0.20c (27.9%). Delcampe take a 5.5% fee on each item if it sells. Let's say that each of those 4.2m items sells at €0.20, that's €851,431 in sales. Delcampe's cut is 5.5% of that, or €46,828. That's a very poor return on investment."

    Cold, hard, numbers that I find difficulty in arguing with. Delcampe exists to make money. The way they go about doing is so is the bone of contention here.

    The "no listing fee" mantra is admirable, but probably not feasible in the long term. I list my EBay sales on the UK site, as the listing fee is much lower than the Australian site. I list better items, but I start them all 99p (listing fee 9p), knowing that most of them will fly. Those items wouldn't fly on Delcampe as the market for better items isn't there, as most collectors of better items avoid the site due to the sheer volume of low-value items.

    Blocking sellers is an option for Delcampe (as Bidstart does), at least then I can avoid the abominations listed by the perpetrator of the scan in my blog!

    I think Sebastien has some work to do to get this right, but, as a buyer, he has my support.

  10. Well, I hope you were kind to yourself then!

  11. Battlestamps, I'm with you there.

  12. How many of Delcampe's item are at 1-2 dollars/euros/pounds? I really don't think those listings will last long either. Even Poppe is going to have to pull a lot of listings.

  13. There are now 15,978,959 items on Delcampe (a whopping increase of 750,000 in a day as sellers list before 1 September?). Of these, 2,706,894 are priced between €1 and €2 (16.9%). In addition, there are 8,595,160 items listed from €0.01 to €0.99 (53.8%).

    Therefore 11,302,054 items are listed <€2, or 70.7%. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've seen a bidding war on an item listed at such a low price on Delcampe. Most items, as sellers know, sell after one or two bids, therefore selling around the listing price.

    This is an unsustainable business model for Delcampe!

  14. I checked Delcampe as a whole, there's 51 million items on there as of today. I then looked at all item priced at $100 USD and less. Of those (44.3 million in on going auctions), 26.3% (11.7 million) or priced at $1.00 or less. 71.8% (31.8 million) are between $1.01 and $10.00 and 18.8% (8.35 million) are priced at $10.01 to $100.00.

    Of those three price groups, which do you think has the highest number of bids on ongoing items? Lowest?

    Using the same price groups I also checked completed and sold items. There's 29.5 million completed auctions of which 20.9 million are marked as sold (as reported from Delcampe's advanced search engine).

    Of the same three price groups, which do you believe has the highest percentage sold versus completed? Lowest? Also based on the total sold (20.9 million), which has the highest percentage sold?
    As for bidding wars, I've had plenty on Delcampe on my items - it just depends on the nature of the items and I've had nothing started higher than $1.

  15. The points you've made actually highlight the problem. Most items listed are low value, most items sold are low value, therefore the return to Delcampe is low as a consequence. As I mentioned earlier, it must be viewed that they are running a business, not an internet portal, and I fully understand why a decision has been reached to increase revenue.

    Whether a flat selling fee, or a small listing fee, is the answer, is the crux of the issue. The fact of the matter is that Delcampe will not survive on such low returns.

    I'd be delighted to be proved wrong on the bidding war issue, and see an item listed at low value with 10, 20 or 30 bids. I've never seen it on Delcampe.

    Again, I see a clear seller/buyer divide here, with most buyers applauding the change and most sellers decrying it. It's clear that Seb needs to engage with the entire Delcampe community to work this through.

  16. There are some currently on current listings, most expensive items first and only those with bids. There's more on there currently with 30 plus bids that started at $1 than you have fingers.

    Bidding wars depend on the nature of the item, the service/feedback of the seller, how well it is listed (pictures/description) and if there's two or more buyers who want it - not on the starting price. Unless you foul up a listing for a Penny Black cover, it will sell high each and every time even if you start it at a penny. It doesn't matter if it's Delcampe or Ebay. Good sellers with good items get the bids.

    As for Delcampe and the policy change...yes it's a business, but the change hurts the hobby and at least in the U.S. it's been hurting pretty bad from where it use to be. I just wish they could find a way to raise revenue without punishing those who are not the problem. Remember how Ebay decided to start taking a percentage of the shipping costs? Yes, there were some bad sellers who inflated their shipping prices to avoid selling fees, but there were those who only charged with the post office charged and we were the ones to suffer. That's how it feels again - punish the many over the actions of a few. Also, there are many buyers who are decrying it as well as they won't be able to get the cheaper items that want individually anymore. You want an Art Craft FDC from the 1950's, or a cheap stamp with a nice SON postmark from an obscure town, or that one precancel that's cheap but elusive, many of the used Latin American stamps that very difficuly to find but undervalued by Scott's or even just one single modern mint U.S. commemorative stamp so you don't have to buy the full sheet? Good luck with that. Delcampe might need revenue, but there's going to be one helluva backlash and unintended consequences.

  17. Again, I disagree. There simply aren't enough buyers of quality items visiting Delcampe, which is precisely why I sell on Ebay. I know if I start at 99p, my items will still sell at a good price.

    The number of BIN's on Delcampe is evidence that sellers don't/won't take the gamble of getting a good price as much as Ebay sellers will.

    I think we agree that the biggest problem is bad seller, by which I mean lazy amateurs that can't identify a stamp, can't scan a stamp (see the illustration) and charge stupid amounts for postage. Unfortunately, fixing those problems won't really increase revenue.

    The change will hurt the hobby, no doubt. However, it's not really Delcampe's job to carry that burden. Unless, of course, Seb would like to raise some capital by selling some shares!

  18. I sell on Delcampe and a lot of my items are in the 10 to 20 cent range. I also sell a lot of singles and sets up to and over $500.00. Surprisingly the cheaper stuff sells, so go figure. Everyone is not able to dump 100.00 into a stamp on a weekly or even a monthly basis. I AM a gold member (which I did not have to buy but I did to help support the site because I know it is not free to host this type of site). I charge exact postage on my lots and combine up to twenty auctions as well with no extra charge. For example, I sell a ton of Sweden stamps from beginning issues into the early to mid 2000's and there will be no way whatsoever I can continue selling single items now without losing money and I will not do that. It takes time to identify, perf, watermark, cost of supplies, etc etc. I do this mainly as a hobby and I know that selling stamps will not make me a millionaire.

    I am a thirty year collector and I am only thirty nine years old and have noticed that this hobby is in a MASSIVE decline. I am in several stamp clubs and I have brought this up to the other members and they are in agree-ance most of the time. I understand that it is not free to host and provide a site like Delcampe which is why they probably need to charge sellers the yearly fee to generate revenue for their site to prevent this kind of issue like this.

    With a hobby like stamps that is in a dire need of a new generation of collectors, it is a sad thing to deprive collectors of being able to buy that one or two single stamps they need that are at a lower price. I feel this is just another thing that will drive away a collector or possible new collector from this great forgotten hobby. I am sure I will get flack by saying this but it is simply the truth. Stamps are not the only hurting hobby. Baseball and other sports cards are in bad shape as well. But yet, coins prosper because of the metallic value (meaning silver and gold) that is holds.

  19. Thanks for taking the time to post such a logical and rational response David. I have also been collecting for most of my life and am a tad older than you. The hobby is in decline, but I point the finger at postal administrations for that, both for their issuing policies and their move to supermarket-type labels. The use of emails also means that kids don't get many (if any) letters in the post any more, and those that they do get are usually obliterated by manic pen cancels!

    I agree with Seb's decision to change, but as I've stated earlier, consultation with sellers may have helped. The point I make, which you appear to agree with, is that Delcampe is a business, not a sellers co-operative. I've received some very abrupt mail as a result of this blog, mainly from disgruntled sellers. My suggestion has been for them to join together, start a co-operative auction site and see how they succeed. None of them are keen to do so, as they know what goes on behind the scenes.

    I still think a small listing fee is preferable, but Seb seems adamant that that won't happen. Good luck with your endeavours. Feel free to post your Delcampe seller ID

  20. It's still cheaper and quicker than rooting through volumes and volumes of stockbooks at a stamp show or paying high gas prices to get there.
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  21. It's impossible to disagree with that point!