If you’ve ever come across a product design featured by a community member or noticed that a custom part or accessory is currently not available for purchase, there’s a good chance you have heard of a bulk purchase.
Group purchasing provides a solution for potential product designs or custom products out of stock to become available for purchase. This sort of thing is prevalent in the mechanical keyboard community.
Often times, individual community members come up with custom designs and want them produced. However, many of these products require minimum order quantities (MOQs), and it is not cost effective or too expensive for a manufacturer to manufacture only one particular unit here and there.
This is where group buying comes in. Group buying allows product designers to present their ideas to the community, allowing repeat customers to fund its production.
What is a group purchase?
Group buying occurs when a community collectively orders a product in the hope that it will reach the MOQ. In many cases, this is the only way a personalized product can be made and sold to potential buyers.
It works much like a Kickstarter campaign. Bulk purchases have a start and end date, with all orders canceled and refunded if the campaign does not reach its MOQ at the end. If the demand exceeds the set MOQ, the order is submitted to the manufacturer for production.
The whole process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. However, not all group purchases are for personalized products. Sometimes group buying can be arranged for existing products, where a manufacturer lowers the price of their product for a community if a specific MOQ goal is met.
What are the advantages and risks of group purchasing?
If an exclusive product interests you and you can’t find it anywhere else, a bulk purchase may be your only option. It is important to understand that group purchasing has inherent risks, no matter how reliable.
Pursuing a group buy is all about offering money to strangers in the hope that they will keep their promise to you. How badly do you want the product – and what risk are you comfortable with?
You should always assess an organizer’s history before joining a bulk buying campaign, as well as how much you want the product to be. If you’re joining a bulk buy just to save a few bucks, you’re probably better off paying a higher premium to secure the product through a channel with more guarantees.
How to join a group purchase?
Reddit has an updated list of ongoing group buys here. One community worth seeing is MechGroupBuys. They offer a wide range of potential product group purchases, with product information detailing start and end dates, base price, and type of sale. They also provide a Discord channel.
The launch of a group purchase includes the following key phases:
- Interest control – Suppliers check if enough people have shown enough interest in their products so that the MOQ is reached.
- Purchasing group – Once sufficient interest is established, the seller initiates a bulk purchase and pre-orders begin to arrive.
- Production – Once the group purchasing step is completed, the designer contacts the manufacturer to start production.
- Accomplishment – Once manufacturing is complete, the producer ships the product to the seller for inspection and sale.
Group purchasing may be worth the risk if the item you are looking to purchase is a necessity. They are particularly popular among the audiophile and custom keyboard communities, allowing designers and companies to produce unique products that could not be funded otherwise.
Being part of a group always comes with inherent risks. But by doing your due diligence in contacting organizers and community members and asking lots of questions, you can ensure that a group buy has a good chance of being successful.