Welcome to Shelflife

ShelfLife FAQs

About ShelfLife

What is ShelfLife?

ShelfLife is the ultimate collector's platform.

Our mission is to make collection tracking, acquisition, and sales as easy as possible for collectors and dealers of all shapes and sizes. Check out our Buy, Sell, & Collect buttons in the top left of every page to get an overview of the major areas of the site.

By adding niche industry news, events, social tools, and gaming elements, we create the best site for managing your collection.

Of course, we should note that we're still in Beta mode, so many of the coolest things we've got planned haven't been revealed yet. For now, you'll just need to have a little faith...start adding your collection and watch for the fireworks.

Why should collectors use ShelfLife instead of eBay, etc?

For Collectors

  1. ShelfLife is totally FREE for collectors to manage their collections and buy things. Never pay 10% to buy a collectible ever again.

  2. ShelfLife enables you to easily record and track your collection, including:

    • What you have.
    • What you want.
    • How many collectibles you have, where you bought them, and for how much.
    • Buiding photo galleries of your collection.
    • Coming soon: What your collection is worth.
    • Coming soon: Catalog subscriptions let you sign up to get one of everything that comes out, or pick your favourites, set your preferred price, and wait for them to arrive at your door as they're released.
  3. ShelfLife helps make sure that when you buy something, you get what you pay for.

    When a seller lists a product for sale, they must confirm which of the items associated with the product they actually have, as well as the condition of those items . We make sure they upload photos of the product they actually have in hand, not just some marketing shot they found on the web.

    eBay doesn't have a record of every collectible. In fact, they don't have any catalog data at all! And any sales older than 60 days can't be seen. That means there's no way to automatically compare two things on eBay to know for certain that they're the same. On ShelfLife, all listings are tethered to the core product information, organized by catalog, and sortable in any number of useful ways. Neat, huh?

For Sellers

  1. On eBay, sellers are charged upwards of 10% to sell, and their product listings are needlessly complex and lengthy. ShelfLife charges 6% to sellers, provides a more humanistic conflict resolution process, and a more streamlined selling platform.

The ShelfLife Marketplace

The three "C"s of ShelfLife's commitment to the collectors of Earth are eternal: Community, Curation, & Common Sense. Based on these core values, we've produced the following code for us all to live by when interacting on ShelfLife.net .

The ShelfLife Collector Code of Conduct

  1. Be good to each other.
  2. Read #1 again please.
  3. Honesty is essential. Condition and completion should always be 95% accurate or better. Describe your collectibles for sale the way you would want them described to you. On the flip side, please try to remember that collectibles are less important than community. Try to accept minor variations in condition or completion with grace and good humour, and help set the bar for reasonable exchange.
  4. Trust comes with time and track record. Sellers must build up a reputation to have funds released faster. This is safer, more prudent, and better for all of us than the alternative. The platform will do our best to speed fund transfers along at every clear opportunity.
  5. The model for conflict resolution will be:
    1. Buyer & seller attempt resolution.
    2. PayPal claim processing occurs and reaches resolution.
    3. ShelfLife intervention is requested.
    4. ShelfLife reviews the transaction details, PayPal case details, shipping history, and photo and/or video documentation.
    5. ShelfLife attempts to provide the most humane and logical resolution for both parties, completely separately from PayPal.
    6. Users will recognize that we will do our best to be effective and just at all times, but are human and will occasionally make mistakes in the face of uncertain evidence.
  6. Vendors deserve a reasonable margin. They take on risk, have expenses, and are trying to make a living like the rest of us. If a price is too high, vote by not buying at that price. Reward honest vendors who offer reasonable prices and great customer service with repeat business and strong ratings. This will improve their access to more collectors, and the proliferation of their ethics within our community.
  7. The community reserves the right to remove members who abuse The Rules. A mistake is a mistake, but a pattern is a blight on our goals and will be dealt with.
  8. The platform owes the community innovation, efficient and intuitive functionality, personal information security, and respect. In return, the community will respect the needs of the platform to collect reasonable fees against sales made through the system in order to cover the costs of the platform and to provide reasonable return on investment.

Buying on ShelfLife

How does buying work on ShelfLife?

Our mission is to make buying collectibles through ShelfLife as simple as possible. Here's how it works right now:

  1. Sellers post what they have for sale with one easy form that directly references our comprehensive catalogs.
  2. When you browse through a catalog on ShelfLife, we show you the best available price (including shipping).
  3. Click on a product and go to its details page.
  4. Click the Add To Cart button on the right side of the page.
  5. Review your shopping cart.
  6. Checkout.
  7. Confirm your order.
  8. If you're worried about the product arriving as ordered, make sure to record your unboxing in case of dispute.

And here are some sexy upgrades coming down the road:

  1. Wish Lists by catalog.
  2. Additional payment options.
  3. Subscriptions for ordering products as soon as they're announced.
  4. 3 levels of purchase commitment to secure you a place in line.

Selling on ShelfLife

How does selling work on ShelfLife?

If you've ever sold anything on the web, you're going to love how easy ShelfLife makes it to sell collectibles.

Our approach has a few key pillars:

  1. We build encyclopedic records of every collectible in each catalog that we launch.
  2. Find a product you want to sell, and click the "Sell yours" button.
  3. Fill in the details of your sale, including:
    • Product completion
    • Product condition
    • Shipping options
    • Photos
  4. Soon, ShelfLife will automatically notify you as you are completing the sale details if there's a buyer ready to purchase your sale at the price you want. This allows for instantaneous sales without waiting around for auctions to finish or people to find your message board or classifieds post. Cool, eh?

Tip: Setting your price below any current listings will generally help speed up your sale.

How much does ShelfLife charge sellers to sell products?

There's no charge to list products for sale on ShelfLife, no matter how many products you have in your collection or inventory. This is a side benefit of our site having a complete record of every collectible and leveraging that for easier data management.

When you sell a product on ShelfLife, we'll charge you 6%. That's about half of what comparable auction sites charge, and we don't even keep all of it.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • 1.5% goes to the curator that put the effort in to complete the catalog you sold through.
  • 4.5% goes to ShelfLife, to keep the site running and help us grow.
  • Note that Paypal will also collect their 3% as usual, for acting as your payment gateway.

The following chart shows how fees break down for buyers & sellers on major e-commerce platforms across the Internet:

TOY SALE BREAKDOWN: Seller Fees on Major E-Commerce

Sale Price Amazon (15%) eBay (10% on avg) ShelfLife (6%)
$10 $1.50 $1.00 $0.60
$25 $3.75 $2.50 $1.50
$100 $15.00 $10.00 $6.00

Why isn't selling free on ShelfLife?

To build and operate a web site as complex as ShelfLife requires some form of revenue to support the platform. Sites that don't charge sellers to sell are either terribly inefficient at matching buyers and sellers (like message boards, Craigslist, etc), or are making the money up with advertising or some other lame process that we'd rather avoid. Heck, a defunct competitor once allowed sellers to sell for free at the ridiculous cost of charging buyers 10% EXTRA for everything they bought. That's just not us.

ShelfLife is fully committed to minimizing transaction fees on all sides of every transaction wherever possible. A big part of the need for fees actually comes from the transaction fees that we have to pay to PayPal and other transaction partners to cover their infrastructure and operating costs. The bigger ShelfLife gets and the more collectors purchase through the platform, the more power we'll have to negotiate lower fees. So get collecting folks, because we'd love to get as low as anyone in the business.

How do I cancel a sale listing?

There are several ways to cancel a sale listing. The easiest way is to click the "Cancel sale" button on your listing's page. Or, if you're editing your listing, click the "Cancel sale" link in the top-right corner. Last but not least, in the Manage Haves overlay for the product that you're selling, you can click the "(remove)" link beside your listing.

We encourage sellers to keep their listings up to date so that buyers don't become disappointed if a listing's no longer available. Remember, selling something you don't have available for sale is strictly forbidden, except in the case of specifically defined pre-orders with established delivery dates. See the "About Pre-Orders" section below for details.

Where can buyers find a list of their purchases?

Buyers can find a list of purchases within the "My Purchases" section of their account.

How does ShelfLife resolve disputes between buyers and sellers?

ShelfLife resolves disputes according to our Transactions Policy.

Do I need a PayPal account?

Yes. At the moment, ShelfLife only supports payments between buyers and sellers via PayPal. We're going to add more payment methods in the future, so bear with us. You need a PayPal account to get the money from your sales transactions that were purchased through the site. Setting up a PayPal account is quick and easy. You can learn all about that over on PayPal.com.

When will I receive my payments from PayPal?

PayPal generally ensures that you're paid immediately at the time of checkout.

What if the buyer doesn't like what I sent?

You can review the full conflict resolution process here. Basically, we help make sure it's all fair and easy to determine who's correct based on photo and/or video evidence of the transaction. If you are at all worried about the buyer, make sure to record your boxing and mailing process for ease of reference during any potential conflict resolution.


What's a Curator?

A Curator is a ShelfLife power user who's volunteered to create catalogs of products and items within ShelfLife. Curators enjoy certain admin privileges related to authoring, editing, and earning commissions from catalogs of products.

How do I become a Curator?

Have a read through the Become A ShelfLife Curator guide.

Once you're approved as a curator, you'll sign a brief agreement outlining your duties and responsibilities, and recognizing that you're a volunteer (rather than an employee of ShelfLife Collectibles Inc.).

How are Curators selected?

Anyone may apply to become a curator.

However, we do prefer to recruit curators who are experts in the subject matter they choose to volunteer for. However, the definition of an "expert" is rather loose. We're really just looking for people who are passionate about the collectibles that they collect and want to help share that knowledge with their fellow collectors. As long as you're enthusiastic, committed, and willing to do the research, you can be a successful curator.

How much time do Curators need to spend fulfilling their duties?

As volunteers, curators have no set hours. They do, however, have deadlines for building their catalogs. When you're assigned a catalog, you'll receive a deadline. All currently announced products that belong to that catalog will typically need to be filled in, along with at least one product photo, within 14 days.

A typical catalog of, say 50 products, may take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours to build on average, depending on your level of product knowledge, and availability of the data.

Please note that deadlines may vary depending on the size of the catalog, and the number of catalogs that're assigned to you.

Are Curators paid?

No. Curators are volunteers, and as such, are not paid by ShelfLife.

However, Curators do collect commissions from the sellers who sell products from within the catalogs that Curators build. Generally, curators receive 1.5% of the final value of a transaction, including shipping and handling for all transactions that take place within their catalogs.

At present, seller commissions are tallied on a monthly basis and paid quarterly. You'll need to have a PayPal account to receive your commissions. In the near future, we'll be adding direct bank deposits for the USA and Canada. We'll notify curators when this becomes available.

How do Curators build catalogs?

Once you've been accepted as a ShelfLife Curator, you'll receive a Curator Welcome Package by email. This package will include your assigned catalog(s), your catalog completion deadline, and a link to your catalog. By following that link, clicking the "Curate" link at the top of any page on the web site, you''ll arrive at your Curation Tools.

In your Curation Tools, you'll find a summary of all of your currently assigned catalogs, their relative completion, any flags you need to review, the amount of money you've earned from sellers, and other relevant curation details. From there, you'll fill out the relevant details of your catalog and then start building products one by one.

Claiming A Catalog

ShelfLife is a new and growing community. We've barely scratched the surface of all of the products that we aim to cover. Remember, the primary goal of ShelfLife is to document every single collectible ever made! That's a big goal, and we need the help of curators like you to get there.

ShelfLife started out with a strong focus on toys, specifically action figures loved by many collectors who grew up in the ‘70s and beyond. Very shortly, we'll be turning our attention to several other major categories, including sports collectibles, sports equipment, video games, personal electronics, and most anything else that's collected by a niche of rabid fans.

As time passes, more and more catalogs that we want curated will start to appear in ShelfLife, empty, and with a button at the top of the page asking you to apply to curate them. However, as a curator or potential curator, you need not wait for a catalog to be posted before you can request it. If you'd like to curate a catalog that you don't see on ShelfLife, simply email us at everyone@shelflife.net, and we'll get things moving.

Defining Your Catalog

Sometimes, deciding what to include in your catalog is obvious. That's not always the case, though. The first rule of curating is to do what will be best for the collectors you are serving with your catalog. Rather than establish hard and fast rules about how to structure a catalog and whether to break certain product lines into sub-catalogs, ShelfLife encourages our curators to discuss their thoughts on their catalog(s) with us and their fellow curators to figure out what makes the most sense. Many catalogs are very similar, but others require special fields or unique functionality to maximize their potential as the definitive source of collectibles information.

When you aren't sure what to do, contact our team via everyone@shelflife.net

Here are just a few examples of some tricky issues that we're working to solve. We would ask that you consider whether your catalog has some of these same issues, and communicate with our team to ensure that you have everything you need before you start completing your catalog data:

Issue #1: Blind Box Products

One marketing and packaging strategy that was once rare but has become increasingly popular is to "blind box" products. A blind boxed product typically has one single packaging version with no indication of which of several possible items are contained within. Recent examples include the Black Blister Hot Wheels series, and Kid Robot's Futurama and South Park figures. By normal ShelfLife rules, a catalog involving a single blind-boxed product would be very small indeed! However, in reality, collectors tend to think of the sealed blind box and the possible items they contain as parallel products that make up a single catalog. As such, a curator would be correct to think that they should include both the blind box and the potential contents as products. Herein lies the current conundrum: a ShelfLife catalog cannot have the same object represented as an item and a product simultaneously. So what to do?

Solution: For now, ShelfLife curators should create blind box catalogs by first creating the blind box product, and then creating a product for each figure or toy that might be found in the blind box. ShelfLife will eventually link these data points to ensure they are perfectly represented within the system.

Issue #2: Large Catalogs

Some catalogs have so many products (often released over a long period of time) that users wishing to browse through them may require further sub-classification to get the maximum benefit from your curation.

Solution: Split the catalog into sub-catalogs.

For example, the Marvel Universe line of 3.75" action figures has been going on for almost three years (as of winter 2012) and contains well over a hundred single carded figures, and dozens of other multi-packs and smaller sub-lines. A decision was made with this catalog to split Marvel Universe into smaller catalogs titled Single Carded FIgures, Multi-Packs, 2-Packs, etc. The core Single Carded Figure products were then further sub-divided into their respective waves. Collectors can use the navigation hierarchy to explore Marvel Universe as a whole, or drill down to explore its sub-catalogs, and subscribe to product information updates accordingly.

Note: A "wave" generally refers to the manufacturer's case that is sent out to retailers with a specific set of products. Manufacturers often plan the release schedule for their product lines based on waves to more accurately control the appearance of fresh products on retail shelves across entire countries and continents.

Issue #3: Massive Reusable Item Lists

Some catalogs draw from a common pool of items included in their various products. Perhaps the most famous of these is LEGO. LEGO has a massive list of brick types that numbers in the thousands. For LEGO collectors to get the most out of ShelfLife, we aim to make sure that our users can see that a specific part that they're looking for might be available in any of potentially dozens of products. This will make it far easier to find that needle in a haystack to finish your favourite building set.

However, we don't support this at the moment. As such, LEGO sets and similar collectibles must have their item lists built repetitively. See Issue #4 for your best method of resolution at present, and stay tuned for a fix later in 2012.

Products vs Items

One of the core principles of catalog management within ShelfLife is the concept of products and items.

A Product is just what it sounds like: a product that can be purchased from a retailer, artist, or manufacturer, in the state intended by its creators.

Items belong to products. An item can't be created without first creating the product that the item belongs to. Items represent the separate physical objects that come within a packaged product. The list of items that need to be created for each product varies from catalog to catalog, but generally, you should think of items as being physical objects a collector might want to collect separately from an entire product.

For example, the Generation 1 Optimus Prime is considered a product. The actual Optimus Prime action figure, trailer, missiles, stickers, etc that came packaged in the product are considered items.

Each item you add to a product will also need to have an item type assigned to it. Item types vary from catalog to catalog, and are assigned by us based on discussions with curators. If you think your catalog is missing an item type, let us know by sending an email to curate@shelflife.net

It's also worth noting that you'll need to assign a quantity to each item included. Multiple occurrences of the same item within a product should not be listed as separate items.

The last thing that you're asked when setting up a new item is which other item(s) the new item belongs to. It's worth noting that not every item belongs to another Item. For example:

Josh is setting up a Transformers Catalog. He's creating a new product that's a three-pack, meaning that three separate Transformers are contained within the product itself. Each of the Transformers in the package comes with an assortment of parts in the form of weapons, instructions, and other accessories. To ensure that collectors can easily interpret which parts belong to which Transformers, Josh first sets up each Transformer as an item with the item type "Transformer". For the weapons, he sets their item type to "Part", and for the instructions, he chooses "Paperwork". He marks each weapon as belonging to the appropriate Transformer item, and leaves the instructions as not belonging to anything.

Equivalency: ShelfLife is working on an upgrade to our item building tools to allow curators to denote that an item in one product is exactly the same (i.e. equivalent) to an item in a different product. This is important, as it'll make it dead easy for collectors to locate parts that their collections are missing, especially in situations where a part has been released in multiple products over time. We'll announce when this functionality has been launched, at which point, curators will login and update their relevant items within their catalogs.

Here are some examples of how a few different types of Products might break down when viewed as as a list, complete with their item types in brackets:

Transformers Toy:

  • 1x Optimus Prime (Transformer)
  • 1x Laser Rifle (Part)
  • 1x Missle Launcher (Part)
  • 3x Missle (Part)
  • 1x Instructions (Paperwork)

Designer Vinyl:

  • 1x Jade Mongolion (Figure)
  • 1x Bag (Packaging)
  • 1x Header Card (Packaging)

Skateboard Deck:

  • 1x Tony Hawk Z-Series Deck (Skateboard Deck)

Note that a product may contain just one item with the same name as the product, since they are one and the same. This is fine. Every product must contain at least one item.

Product Attributes vs Item Attributes

For a catalog to be complete, both products and items have fields that must be filled in. It's important to recognize which fields belong to products, and which fields belong to items. Generally, product attributes are the ones that describe information that belongs to the entire product, while item attributes represent information that only relates to a specific item.

For example, the Transformers Battle In Space 2-Pack product has the following attributes:

  • Product attributes:
    • Name: Battle In Space: Rodimus/Cyclonus 2pk
    • Description: Redeco of Classics Rodimus and Universe 2.0 Cyclonus to give them an screen accurate appearance!
    • MSRP: $19.99
    • Release Date: 2010
    • Packaging: MISB
    • Manufacturer: Hasbro
    • Exclusive: (blank)
  • Item attributes:
    • Item Type: Transformer
    • Name: Rodimus
    • Class: Deluxe
    • Allegiance: Autobot
    • Character: Hot Rod
    • Alternate Modes: Car

Product and Item Photos

For a catalog to be considered complete and ready for publishing, it should include at least one photo of every product. Ideally, there'll also be at least one photo of each item, as well as any photos that are necessary for collectors to understand the product.

As a curator, you can upload and re-arrange photos in the "Manage Photos" tab when curating a product.

The "Manage Photos" tab is broken up into two main sections: Featured Photos, and the Public Gallery.

To upload a photo, simply click the pink "Upload A Photo" button. This will bring up an overlay window. Choose a photo to upload, and then fill in its details, associating it with the items that are shown in the photo. Please try to avoid uploading photos with more than one product in them as they will tend to confuse less knowledgeable users.

It's important to ensure that you identify which items are actually visible in each photo. Collectors will be relying on these details!

Public Gallery vs Featured Photos

The Public Gallery is the collection of all of a product's photos uploaded by every curator and collector. The Featured Photos set is your curated set of the best and most relevant photos. Ideally, you'll want to ensure that the Featured Photos gallery includes:

  • A photo of the product in its original packaging.
  • A photo of the items out of their packaging.
  • A photo of each separate item.

If you can't find all of these photos, you should ensure that there's at least one photo per product, and from then on, simply update the Featured Photos gallery when other collectors upload new photos. This'll improve the product record for collectors.

We'll let you know by email when collectors upload photos of products that you curate. This'll make it easy for you build the best gallery of featured photos for your products. These newly-uploaded photos will be found in your products' Public Gallery. You can drag and drop between the Public Gallery and Featured Photos sections to build the best visual representation of the products that you curate.

Photo Editing

We are currently working on completing a new suite of on-site photo editing tools. For now, please edit your photos on your computer before uploading them.

Managing Flags

On every catalog, product, and item page, you'll see this button:
Report A Problem

This button enables collectors to report issues with product and item data. When a collector reports an issue, it's referred to as a "flag". Submitted flags will be shown at the top of your Curator Dashboard, as you can see below.

This button enables collectors to report issues with catalog, product, and item data. When a collector reports an issue, it's referred to as a "flag". Flags are shown at the top of your Curator Dashboard, as you can see here:
Curator Dashboard Flags

You'll also receive an email each time a flag is submitted on a catalog that you curate. Curators should make every effort to attend to flags within 7 days. If flags aren't taken care of, your catalogs might be assigned to other curators who can fulfill their curator duties.

If you're not sure how to resolve a specific flag, we recommend discussing the flag with your fellow curators and collectors.

Tech Stuff

What browsers and platforms does ShelfLife support?


98% of the site works elegantly in all major browsers going back at least 4 years. The official list looks like this:

  • Firefox 3.6+
  • Chrome 11+
  • Internet Explorer 8+
  • Safari 5+
  • Opera 11+

Note: Internet Exploder doesn't support multi-file selection and upload...like, at all. If you're a Curator or plan to upload lots of photos of your collection, be kind to yourself and switch to Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Safari already, would ya?

Operating Systems

ShelfLife should work fine on your PC, Mac, or Linux desktop or laptop, and works pretty well on iPads at the moment. We're working on our mobile site and some sexy mobile apps for delivery in Q3 2012. More on that in the coming months.

In the meantime, if you locate a bug, please use our "Report A Problem" buttons located on the right side of each page to tell us what you saw. We'll try to fix it ASAP to improve your user experience. We're good like that.