The Art of Collecting
Steve Roach, Coin World’s editor-at-large, has been deeply involved with numismatics for more than 20 years, starting as a young coin collector in Michigan. Two years spent as a coin grader, nearly three years at a major coin wholesaler and a stint as a paintings specialist at an international auction house have given Steve a rich understanding of the hobby, its market and the unique personalities and exceptional objects that make collecting meaningful. He joined Coin World in 2006 as a columnist, and has served as associate editor and editor-in-chief. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University and is a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.
Improvements to U.S. Mint's website welcomed by collectors
Ask anyone who has developed a website how it went, and the answer will typically incorporate these points: it is always harder than expected, nearly always more expensive than anticipated and an often thankless task.
For several years the U.S. Mint had taken a piecemeal approach to improving its website, which had become antiquated. This approach often left collectors frustrated and the system showed its weakness most prominently during launches of popular coins and sets.
Collectors became used to waiting long period of time and then hoping that an element of luck would click in, allowing them to purchase the coins that they had waited for.
It turned coin buying into something akin to a pilgrimage, rather than a simple business transaction.
The Mint launched its new site on Oct. 1, promising that it would be more user-friendly and faster. The dreaded “waiting room” for high traffic days with product launches was eliminated and users could more easily track their orders.
The new site saw its first major test with the launch of the four-coin Kennedy 50th Anniversary half dollar set on Oct. 28.
With a total limit of 300,000 sets and a household limit of five sets, it was a good product to test the capabilities of the new system in that the 300,000 sets would likely not sell out immediately. In fact, during the first 12 hours of sales, 85,670 sets were sold.
Those buying coins reported that the Mint’s site worked as one would expect it to and that the shipping was fast, the coins were handsome and that it was a positive experience.
In a year of ups and downs for the U.S. Mint, the launch of a new website and a successful product launch ends the year on a high note.
In chatting with Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporate Communication, he said that the Mint was obviously delighted and that while the upgrade was long overdue, the new system is state of the art and gives the U.S. Mint the same tools as the largest online retailers.
He stressed that the Mint is constantly looking to improve its communication channels with collectors, making sure that it produces products that collectors want and that these coins get to collectors promptly and easily.
He said that this integration of sales, manufacturing and customer service channels is something that the Mint’s been working hard at improving, and that successful integration of these systems could possibly change the dynamics of coin collecting.
It’s a welcome change that has been long overdue for collectors.
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