Transforming Communities into Marketplaces (With Case Studies)

Several case studies on marketplaces for physical goods that have been communities before involve the following companies: Houzz, Shapeways, DeviantArt, hobbyDB, and Fandom.

1. Houzz

  • Houzz is an online marketplace for various household items such as furniture pieces, fixtures, decor, and other similar products.
  • The company was founded in 2009 and started as a network where home improvement and other related content were shared by community members.
  • The founders of the company also built a platform that lets home improvement professionals such as decorators, architects, and other contractors to showcase their work. Homeowners can then view their work on the platform to look for design ideas and find service providers.
  • The Houzz community now includes over 40 million “homeowners, home design enthusiasts, and home improvement professionals.”
  • Although the company is already featuring suggested products that can be bought from other sites since 2011, it is only around 2014 that the company lets its visitors buy the item from its site.
  • The company became an online marketplace in October 2014 with over 6 million home goods from more than 15,000 merchants.
  • In 2016, the company opened its commerce API to vendors who are selling related products. The API will help the merchants to easily link with the Houzz platform where they can post their products, manage their inventory, and process their orders.

2. Shapeways

  • Shapeways allows 3D makers to create, customize, and retail their products on its marketplace.
  • Shapeways started in March 2007 as a community of 3D product makers who are enthusiastic about improving the 3D-making process and coming up with creative products.
  • Members can share their ideas and discuss their challenges with the community.
  • Community managers also meet with the members to provide them with advice and support as they complete their projects.
  • In July 2008, Shapeways announced that it is inviting 3D product makers to create, design, and sell their 3D printed-products on its online site.

3. hobbyDB

  • hobbyDB is a marketplace where a massive array of gaming and pop culture collectible items are being sold.
  • The community is made up of “super-fans, geeks, and collectors.”
  • The company started a community in 2014 where collectors of gaming and pop culture items can view each other’s collections, swap items, do some research on collectibles, and ask questions.
  • In 2020, the company started looking for funds to monetize and build its marketplace.

4. DeviantArt

  • DeviantArt is an online community where members can share and discuss information and updates about artworks, videography, and photography.
  • The community was established in 2000.
  • In 2006, the community launched its marketplace where artists can upload and sell their work.

5. Fandom

  • Fandom, a pop culture and entertainment community partnered with hobbyDB to launch its own signature Fandom marketplace. Fandom’s marketplace will house items from various entertainment franchises. There was no disclosed date found on when the marketplace launched in all the publicly available sources searched.
  • Fandom is composed of over 400,000 communities that share a passion for pop-culture and entertainment news. Fans can find and share information on their favorite fandom franchises and other entertainment updates.
  • Fandom was founded in 2016 by Wikia, its parent company.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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