In the US, we pride ourselves as a country of innovation, At the same time, much of this innovation is clustered in specific metro areas, often associated with historical regional specialties. For example, the manufacturing industry has seen a resurgence since 2009, especially in the industrial heartland. Even software-driven Silicon Valley and gaming-focused Reno, Nevada, are experiencing an uplift in industrial employment, with companies like Tesla making bold and innovative manufacturing moves.
In my experience, innovative talent is certainly not concentrated in any one region. The ‘maker’ community is a prime example: inventive individuals who capitalize on the availability of low-cost computers, such as Raspberry Pi, and powerful software stacks and web services that simplify the development of advanced applications to conceive new ideas that address niche markets. These innovators can be pretty much anywhere—and they have the potential to ignite a successful startup that can drive jobs and more innovation.
For these innovators, one key ingredient is often the hardest part to acquire: specialized hardware. Why? Because most manufacturers have high minimum-order requirements tailored for large OEMs or assembly customers. As an inventor myself, I set out to change that by developing a new approach to procuring high-end technical gear: low-friction group buying backed by crowd-support from our community and our in-house product development team to lower technical barriers of entry.
A group-buying program levels the buying playing field by giving independent inventors, product developers, makers, and businesses the same access to, and pricing for, specialized technology products as larger players. It connects these buyers with a wide variety of products offered by leading manufacturers, and enables them to apply the power of crowdfunding to secure volume pricing on products that would otherwise be unobtainable due to high minimum-order quantities.
Manufacturers can leverage these networks of innovators and cultivate a new and easily managed sales channel. For example, FLIR Systems of Santa Barbara, California, developed a breakthrough LWIR camera core called Lepton. By partnering with GroupGets.com, a group-buying program that I founded, FLIR capitalized on an unforeseen market opportunity that boosted its incremental sales. Via group buying, FLIR connected with many new customers such as WashSense., C-Thermal, and Microgrid Labs. FLIR also saw more meaningful innovation with their Lepton product — which has now sold more than one million units.
Microgrid Labs needed a compact thermal sensor and USB readout solution to complete the design of a solar irradiance forecasting system. Using GroupGets, their team connected with other inventors also eager to integrate the Lepton into their products, and secure an initial batch of Leptons for prototyping and development. With these units, Microgrid Labs was able to apply for a federal grant to help it perfect its product, which will be used to support increased solar deployment in smart grids, micro-grids, and solar-diesel hybrid systems. In addition to the convenience of gaining access through a group buy, Microgrid Labs also utilized the PureThermal 1 Hackable USB Thermal Webcam, developed by GroupGets, to accelerate development of its product.
Could a group-buying program could work your manufacturing business? Here are six reasons you should give it serious thought.
1. Attract new & innovative customers
Sure, you might be well known in your industry with your traditional customers. But what about that emerging demographic you’ve had trouble reaching? Or the market you’re looking to break into? Or the one you never knew existed? With group buying, you can reach several new markets at once. The inventor’s goal is to get access or set a price in their budget, so more buyers equal a cheaper price. These buyers are also incentivized to actively share their group buy with others to generate more buyers which, in turn, organically spreads the word about your business and its products.
2. Free advertising
This benefit is two-fold. Not only will you receive organic promotion from consumers, as described above, but the group-buying platform itself will promote your brand for free. That’s instant access to their house database and social media reach. It’s free advertising that generates leads and sales. It will also give you the ability to engage with inventors and enthusiasts who are discussing your products on social media platforms.
3. Move inventory
Do you have product that’s been hard to move and it’s taking up precious space on your shelf? Did Dave accidentally order 1,000 items when you specifically asked for 100 — and there is a no-return policy? There’s no better way to quickly move product than linking up with a group-buying program that can move it for you. All you need to do is settle on the price and let someone else do the work. Maybe Dave will even keep his job.
4. No risk or hassle
Logistics can be a nightmare and a big deterrent for businesses to offer group buy deals. Imagine they are completely handled and all you have to do is say “Ok.” Some group buy platforms will handle distribution, logistics, shipping, customer service, and everything else internally, with a single, simple bulk order to your business. No risk, no stress, no hassle. Just happy hour!
5. Increased revenue
This is a no-brainer. You gain more customers and increase revenue. It’s perhaps the biggest reason to work with the group buying community. They want your products and when it’s offered through a unique platform that offers a fun collaborative purchasing environment with discounts and support, they’re going to want and talk about it even more. You can easily turn 5 buyers into 50 or 500.
6. Instant market feedback
A group-buying program is beta-friendly and perfect for “unofficial” releases or limited production runs. Members can gain valuable early-stage insights from tech pros on your product as you ramp up production for large-volume sales.
A group buying platform enables secure online group buys, crowd support, and logistics for global B2B/B2C sales — all while fostering global innovation. Give it a try! Let us know your experience with group buying in the comments section below.