Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Check Out Our New eBay Shipping Policies

As OquistStamps continues to grow, we like to reach out to our customers to gain their input. Recently, we set up a survey asking customers how they felt about tracking labels vs stamps for their shipments. As a result of this survey we have made some changes to our shipping policies effective October 2015. Below are the new shipping options that will be displayed at checkout.  

US shipments: USPS 1st Class PKG using label – WITH TRACKING - $3.00
US shipments: USPS 1
st Class letter using stamps -NO TRACKING - $2.00
Orders over $50 will receive free shipping with tracking. (Note: Oversized lots (sheets and pages) may have a higher shipping cost. If so it will be stated in the listing.)

Wondering how we came to these changes?  Below is a brief summary of the survey results and the comments we received.

We asked 3 questions – Was tracking necessary? Would you be ok with stamps – no tracking? Would you prefer higher s/h to receive tracking or maintain costs without tracking?

78% felt tracking was not necessary, 98% said they would be ok without tracking.

The common theme of the comments received were:

Tracking preferred for higher valued items.  

The 3rd question was about a 60/40 split on raising costs / maintain costs.

Again most comments stated that tracking for higher valued items would be desired.

Many offered the suggestion that we give the customer the option to choose at checkout.  

These results led to the changes above.  We now offer the choice at checkout – and the customer can choose – tracking or no tracking.  And orders over $50 will automatically receive tracking.

Thanks for taking a moment to review our changes.

And Thank you for your business.

Lisa & Nik

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Theft Alert! Items stolen at Kalamazoo Stamp Show on Saturday October 3, 2015

We wanted to pass along this theft alert, issued by Stamps Tech Plus. Their alert is as follows:
Attention APS Dealer Members:

The following covers were taken from a dealer display at the Kalamazoo Stamp Show on Saturday October 3, 2015 between Noon and 1 p.m.
• Cover with used US Scott 112 tied with Nov 2 Sparta WI Bullseye fancy cancel. This cover is missing the back flap and has some glassine reinforcing from the back. The cover is addressed in blue ink to W.H.Blytyn Esq. Sparta Wis. Back in pencil "No WPHS#."
Cover with used Scott 23 with New York Feb 11 1860 Circle date stamp. Stamp is upside down on canary cover addressed in black fountain pen to A.J. McKeen, Burlington Bradford Co, Pa.

Cover with used Scott 93 with Oct 15 Salem Mass circle date stamp and fancy cancel. Damage to back flap from opening straight across. Marked in pencil on back Grill 10-13-49 Paige.

If you come across material matching these descriptions notify Nick Lombardi.
Additional scans of the fronts and backs of these covers are available on request. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Technology is Great!

How far can you travel on $14.80?

Recently we sold an item on eBay to one of our longtime customers in Peru.  Because of the cost of the item we sent it by registered mail.  Typically international registered mail takes anywhere between 10 days to 2 months to arrive depending on the destination.  This cover took a bit longer… and a bit of a detour.
Thanks to electronic tracking implemented in many countries that are part of the Universal Postal Union, we can quickly locate letters and packages with a few keystrokes.  Given the nature of our mailings, we frequently check on the progress of items and when we checked on the progress of our letter sent to Peru… we were initially pleased, but quickly became confused.  Here’s why:

To say the least, we were a bit perplexed by the fact that our mailing actually got to Peru (after visiting various airports in the US), but then went on to the Philippines, three days later.  But on a positive note, we were able to see where it was.  Once it was in the Philippines we were able to log into PHLPOST, the Philippines Postal Service tracking website, this is what we found:

OK… so all was not lost, at least we knew where it was and they appeared to be sending it onto Peru.  No new news for the next three weeks, until we logged in on the 6th of March and saw the following update on PHLPOST:

BRAZIL!?!?  It now appears that our item was received in Brazil… but how could that be?  The “country of destination” appears to have been randomly changed, despite the fact that the envelope’s address label clearly reads: AREQUIPA, PERU.  What to do now?  We logged into Brazil’s tracking website and found it!   From March 5th through May 24th there was no activity, until, it appears that a message from us to the Brazilian Postal Service (through a convenient website) may have moved things along and it went to a sorting facility on the 25th of May.

Within days it was on its way to Peru:

Once we knew it was on the way to Peru, we felt a bit more at ease.  We then utilized SERPOST, the Peruvian postal service tracking system and followed its progress until it was delivered 3 weeks later:

Here are some images of the actual cover.  As you can see there are relatively few postmarks to document its journey:

Postmark indicated it passed through the registered mail facility in Jamaica, NY

Postmark indicating it was miss-sent to CMEC in Pasay City, Philippines 

So… How far can you travel on $14.80?
Approximately 29,935 miles*

(Mileage was calculated using shortest air mile distance)

Technology is great!  Now you can watch as your mail gets misdirected.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Steps to Start Selling on eBay

Currently, you can find millions of things to buy on eBay. From clothing to cologne, it seems anyone can sell almost anything. But listing an item for sale is just the first step in starting a successful business as a seller. 

Recently, one of our buyers asked for some tips on how he could start his own store, and we thought the information might be interesting to others:
Nik and I started selling stamps about 12+ years ago as a hobby.  Nik had collected since he was a kid.  We started out selling some of his duplicates to pay for the stamps he wanted to purchase.  Then we started buying small accumulations to break down and sell.

Nik and Lisa Oquist, Owners - OquistStamps
It was a part time thing – One group of listings a week closing on Sundays.  We slowly added a few more listings here and there, but it was always just a part time hobby.

We moved to Maryland and it was put on the shelf for a few years until an old friend from Nashville asked us to sell his collection for him. Then one of our customers asked about consignment and we took on his collection – It took about 18 months to sell.  

At this point we were listing about 4-5 days a week.  And it just grew.  With the consignment monies, we were able to purchase more collections to break down and sell.  So for the past 4 years we have been selling stamps full time.  It is a lot of work, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Creating a business / career out of selling stamps was not our intent, but with the growth we experienced, it seemed like the right thing to do.   We now list about 100 auctions a day and maintain about 400-500 fixed price listings. 

I am happy to share what works for us:
It's Only Worth What Someone Will Pay for It

One thing we have done is trained our thought process regarding value. 
You can have a stamp worth $1000, but if no one is going to pay that for it, is it really worth $1000?   A good way to look at things is to take what you pay for a collection and then determine what a stamp cost you.  If you paid $10 for a stamp worth $100 and you sell it for $25, you have more than doubled your money.  I admit sometimes this isn’t easy, but keeping cost v.s value in mind helps.

Determine Your Minimum

Find a starting point for your auctions – we start all of our auctions at a penny.  This is difficult for many sellers to do, but we have found it works for us.  The important thing is that you have to be comfortable with whatever starting price you pick, as there is a chance your item will sell for that.   If you are uncomfortable with letting the market set the price, try out some fixed price items first.

Provide Amazing Customer Service 

  • Describe your items accurately.   If there are any faults – describe them.
  • Provide good images – we scan at 600dpi for single stamps, 300 dpi for sets, 1200 dpi for special items.
  • Label your items.  This helps both you and the buyer identify the item.
  • Take time to package your items with care. 
  • Communicate promptly.
  • Keep fees reasonable. I find most people do not complain about the shipping charge ($2) when they see that the label cost me $1.93. 

Know Your Costs

Do a cost analysis to see if achieving top rated status is financially beneficial.  With part time sellers it may not be as the fees may be more than the discount received. 

If you are using postage for shipping instead of labels, look for discounted postage lots.  We get ours at a discount off face value, which helps keep shipping cost down a bit.

Always Be Improving
Be willing to adjust your business model.  We are continually looking at the way we do things and making adjustments as needed so things run more smoothly.


Get 5 more great tips from Christina DesMarais with HERE! Good luck getting your business started!  

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