Fanatics entered the sports card industry with a stated goal of bringing products more directly to the consumer. Last week, they took a big first step towards that goal, allowing for preorders of one of the hottest products of the year.
Preorders are nothing new in the sports card industry. These pre-orders usually fluctuate in price over time, and often sell out on popular releases like Bowman. Sometimes, retail outlets such as Target and Walmart may have blaster boxes for sale, but not hobby or jumbo products.
But last week, the Topps website began soliciting pre-orders for 2023 Bowman. Impressively, the website offered three different versions for sale: the retail blaster box, the regular hobby box, and the jumbo box. Even more impressively, prices on the hobby and jumbo boxes were lower than what the retail price was last year. And perhaps most impressively, the product stayed in stock for quite a long time before eventually selling out on the website.
Ever since 2020, I have had a difficult time getting my hands on Bowman, which used to be my second favorite product to open after the flagship Series 1 product. Even on the Target and Walmart websites, product would sell out in generally less than 15 minutes. To see the product stay in stock on the Topps website for as long as it did was an encouraging sign that collectors may be able to get more affordable product in an efficient manner, rather than having to rely on marked up product from resellers well after release day.
While I didn’t buy direct from the site because my buying habits have changed and I’m not sure how much Bowman I plan on opening moving forward, people I spoke with who did purchase from the site said it was a smooth experience that was not sluggish due to overwhelming traffic in the same way that past Topps release day sales have been. This method of distribution may very well be the future for popular products, and if it results in collectors being able to purchase affordable products and receive them at or new release date, it’s a huge win for the teams at Topps and Fanatics.