Are Manufacturers Ready for Makers?

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The Maker Movement includes artisans and inventors who create small batches of products in garages, workshops, and home offices. Etsy, the Brooklyn-based business that offers Makers on-line shops, has a decade’s worth of experience connecting buyers and sellers on-line. Two years ago, Etsy surprised some members of the Maker Movement when it stopped requiring its sellers to produce their own products. Now, Etsy will help Makers find outsourcing partners through a new service called Etsy Manufacturing.
Starting this fall, Etsy sellers in the U.S. and Canada can use a beta-phase platform to find manufacturers who can help them to scale-up production. For starters, sellers can search for companies with capabilities such as screen printing or metal pressing. Etsy sellers can also limit their queries by geographic location, and set their searches to a minimum threshold for orders. Sellers still need to get Etsy’s approval to outsource, but Etsy Manufacturing could mark another important change in the company’s business model.
Critics claim that the publicly-traded firm has lost its way after watching its stock price fall. But CEO Chad Dickerson sees Etsy Manufacturing as a logical extension of the company’s small-scale approach to business. Specifically, Dickerson believes that Etsy Manufacturing can help small manufacturers by connecting them to artisans who want to outsource production in North America instead of overseas.  “We’re already changing the way things are bought and sold, and we believe we can do the same for manufacturing,” he says.
Yet not all small manufacturers are ready to support Makers. In a pilot program with Etsy, FuzeHub worked with seven Etsy sellers and observed significant variability in their manufacturing knowledge and general readiness to scale-up production. For manufacturers then, engaging Makers is more than just a matter of order quantities and production capabilities. Because working with Makers can be time-intensive, manufacturers must have the organizational values to support these relationships. Do you?
Image Credit:  © Sergey Nivens/Dollar Photo Club


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