Aug 29, 20191304 views

Update on Community Changes

Hi all,  We expect this to be our final update for the foreseeable future with regards to Community structuring and any big-picture changes.  Notable Changes: Ultralight will merge with Outdoors into a singular community. Flashlights and Blades will rejoin EDC as a singular community. Tech will no longer source new products, for the time being. Writing will return as a place to have discussions, but sourcing new products will be on pause. For Context: Our goal is always, and has always been, to add value to our community, whether that is through creating something new, bringing a community project to life, or simply leveraging the group-buy dynamic to get the best products for our members. We only enter a community after an ample amount of thought and consideration, and we only leave one after even more. At this point in time, however, continuing to support some communities is not compatible with our business.  In the past, we have typically found someone with the passion and knowledge to lead a community and interact directly with its members. They would then be able to source the most desirable products, leveraging that community’s built-in interest with suppliers and partners. This approach has worked well in communities known for bigger marketing budgets, better margin, or an openness to evolve, but it’s been a struggle to maintain in others.  For example, the tech industry is highly competitive and margins are thin. Very large players that move thousands and thousands of units can point to those numbers to push for lower prices, and they can afford to lose money in the name of competition.  In contrast, some communities have been built around established companies that are less open to changes in their existing business model. These producers have often led their target market for decades, and see no reason to change their designs, prices, or suppliers.  In the last couple years we’ve spun off several communities from each other (blades and flashlight from EDC, for instance), and ultimately it makes more sense to reunite them. We also understand that some of our users get annoyed about seeing things they have no interest in. Rest assured that we’re working on some simple features to resolve that issue—but for the time being, we think these communities belong together under a larger umbrella.  Today we are a community-focused product company that has evolved from a group-buying site aimed at sourcing the best products for our members. Given our product-focused heritage,we initially assumed that offering products would be a requirement for community interest and engagement. Based on community feedback about our recent announcements, it seems clear that this is not the case for at least some number of our members. As a result, we’re going to restore the discussion section for those of you in the Writing and Tech community who enjoy generally interacting with your fellow enthusiasts. At this point in time, we do not have someone with the knowledge or time to fully invest in these communities in a meaningful way. Finding new products and securing new sales will be rare, if it happens at all, which means this is a purely social initiative for the time being.  Most importantly, we’re always watching and listening to what everyone has to say, and we will continue to work towards the goal of improving our community as best we can. If the right circumstances present themselves, then we will take them into consideration and adjust accordingly. At this time, we believe the best path forward for Drop is to focus on our strongest communities and focus all our energy into building the highest quality community-driven enthusiast products and experiences.  Thanks for your attention and continued support. Sincerely, The Drop Team
(Edited)
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Bitbat, RichardNSA, and 11 others
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The more I think about it, the more I think this has to do with Massdrop's path to continued growth. I bet that it's difficult to source a drop in the first place, and I can't imagine most manufacturers are ok with Massdrop undercutting their traditional retailers. This most likely compounds when Massdrop is trying to roll out more and more drops. To continue to grow they can try and source larger drops (which must be extremely difficult and exposes them to retaliation from manufacturers), or they can try and source drops across more products (which is logistically difficult and probably carries a ton of risk). The problem is, I'm personally not really interested in their own "custom" versions of products, especially when all they're releasing is headphones, amps, and pocket knives. I'm all set on those categories, and that's not why I used to shop Massdrop anyway. I want to find quirky, awesome stuff that I wouldn't find elsewhere. I want excellent recommendations from the community for products that I didn't know I wanted. Gilt.com went through a similar cycle 10 years ago. The economy was melting down and they were able to buy up lots of high end clothing for huge discounts. Once things started recovering it was very very hard for them to source inventory and it was hampering their growth. They tried to expand into other areas but they ran into direct competition that effectively capped their daily sales figures. For Gilt, the path was to eventually sell off the company at a price that was far below their funding targets. The employees and most of their investors got screwed in the process. If Massdrop has taken VC money then this problem is especially bad, since their investors are looking for continued explosive growth. Once it plateaus their funding will dry up and potential negative consequences will be triggered, such as loss of equity and more control being handed over to their investors. I'd love to see the following plan:
  1. Return the communities that we know and love. Removing them has obviously had a huge impact on the user community and I'd be willing to bet their month-over-month numbers are down and their bounce rate is most likely way up.
  2. If they're having a hard time finding people to run the communities and source the products, then either try and identify enthusiastic users who are willing to step in and help build the community or just hire users who are obviously passionate about certain categories.
  3. Establish an affiliate program. This will encourage more people to link into Massdrop and promote products from external community sites.
  4. Expand the communities and forums by making the user experience better. Clean up the interface. Make searching better. Introduce some sort of flair for users who are engaged and have their comments voted up by others. Create some incentives for engagement.
  5. Create a program for retailers who are looking to liquidate or move their inventories. Make it easy to sign up. Let the external retailers handle their own shipping. Let them set their own prices.
  6. Create a better incentive for manufacturers to sell through Massdrop. I'm guessing their Studio program is pretty popular and profitable, since they're obviously shifting their focus to Studio. To make it enticing for users they need to expand the range of products they offer this way or they need to make the products distinctive in some way.
As it is, they need a better plan. The current state of the site sucks and I don't really see myself using it or recommending it in the future.
(Edited)
bshort
You know, that sound a lot like what happened to Rue La La back in the day as well. I don't know about the internal stuff but they went from awesome to sucksville in, like, a month's time, and just kept driving in the same direction.
Anybody know of any other sites that do drops for games and trading cards like MTG? I had noticed that stuff like variety and prices started going down the drain when the site changed to drop.com, but I didn't think they'd just cut them. Does anybody know of any alternatives?
OlMort
I would be interested in this as well.
bshort
As someone who used to collect MTG -- the more common deals are on a set, the more overproduced it was and the less the cards ended up appreciating in value. I mean, there was a while I could get booster boxes of Fallen Empires for like $40. It had something to do with overproducing it, because they figured it'd sell like Legends,and it didn't. It also had something to do with how bad most people thought it sucked. FE is possibly the most underpowered set WOTC ever released. Both those facts contributed to the fact that for a long time when I was collecting, every set was marked up except for FE which was going for next to nothing, and everyone and their dog was offering some kinda deal on it. I just don't know that a group buying site, or whatever Drop has become, is the best fit for long term good deals on CCGs and the like that depend on scarcity mechanics to sustain their pricing. That's not a slam on Drop so much as it's a recognition that we're not in the right space to be interesting to them. Because it's not like MTG needs Drop to spread the word, know what I mean? On the other hand, MTG does have inventory that sells slower than other parts of their inventory, and that's about the only incentive they have to work with someone like Drop. But that doesn't work out well for Drop buyers unless they're only playing for the entertainment value and not worried about collectability and value, because slow selling inventory in MTG equals cards that won't have much resale value for a long, long time, if ever. I know what you mean, though. I haven't bought MTG for years, but I still looked over whatever Drop posted in that category. Stuff like that is hard to quantify metrically for Drop -- they want us to buy stuff, not just sit and be entertained by their labors for free -- but you do need that entertainment factor for people to come and spend time in your storefront.
This is a huge mistake. As others in this thread have pointed out, most of the charm of Massdrop was finding quirky products that I might not see in other places. Collapsing communities down to just a few broad categories and shifting to custom products means that I can just find the same things in other places (Amazon, B&H) for cheaper prices and with better shipping options. Good luck with the change. Maybe it will work out for you. I hate it, though.
(Edited)
Sad! Half of the charm of mass drop was to see the curious things that small groups of like minded hobbyists would all want to group purchase. Sure, the discounts were more of a gimmick but the passion seemed real. Now, 6 or 7 categories littered with Drop made products at the top? It took me half an hour to realize you couldn’t view all categories and sort by “Ending Soonest” anymore. Screw my interests, to do any type of shopping like I was used to I had to follow all topics. Then sort by time. And then I could be disappointed at the monotony of the offerings. Very successful sites like woot went to pot and I’m sorry but, this was a great “upper crust” interest community to begin to learn about fountain pens or photography. My wallet thanks you but future generations will be less fortunate.
"Most importantly, we’re always watching and listening to what everyone has to say, and we will continue to work towards the goal of improving our community as best we can." What ever can be the reason that this statement (as found above) does not match up with what I am seeing here? A very scary thot is that they ARE doing the best that they can. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Used to enjoy Dropship.... don't like the changes. Good luck.
Your website is dead. Congrats on whoever bought it and killed it.
@Drop @Will @AlexPk Is Style going away too? Why is the SlideBelt listed in EDC and not there? Also, there's no active drops there aside from the Drop made stuff Feels like Writing did a few days before that disappeared with no notice
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Kavik
Not 100%, but I think the SlideBelt has traditionally been an EDC product. As for lack of other things in Style, you're not wrong. There will be some other items here and there, but the primary focus will be on the Drop Studio products for the time being.
AlexPk
I dunno, I don't recall, just seems edc is getting WEIRD....but then, I only casually browsed it in the past, before it absorbed blades I wrote another message about that here, but then we stopped getting replies in this post. Still think we'd be better suited by having a more generic Home/Office/Garage community for a lot of this stuff. But that's just my 2 cents
Truthfully, I've never had so much fun in a forum as I have had in the Knives community. It has changed the way I buy and WANT to buy. Losing that would be akin to losing friends…
Axeguy
I'll live if the community stays named EDC. I guess they're collapsing the communities down into a few central ones because they want to build core competencies in their sales team -- they've said as much recently. This will take time, if they make it work. It's just kind of weird going into the EDC thing and seeing a bunch of kitchen knives. Like, my kitchen knives stay in the kitchen as a general rule. Drop has some odd ideas about the things people carry around with them on a daily basis. I'm sure their decision to keep selling kitchen knives even though the cooking and knives communities no longer exist as such, isn't that they all carry chef knives in their pockets and think it's normal, but because they were making some money at it. Me, I would just sort of pause on the kitchen knives - I don't think they're selling things that will build their brand at all, I think their collabs on kitchen knives are just geek bait, made out of cool sounding super steels that turn out to be bad fits for a real kitchen or an audience that knows the first thing about cooking with knives. Honestly it looks like their suppliers sort of ran the table on them -- there isn't a single one of their kitchen knives I'd buy, and I love to cook. If they want to sell glitzy chef knives to EDC enthusiasts that don't really cook anyway but want to buy cool things, they should just keep at it. If they want a cooking community to start springing up, they can't leave it in EDC. Way different products, way different buyers, way different motivations and needs. Buyers have a lot better of a chance of knowing if something looks cool enough to EDC than they do knowing whether a piece of cooking gear is good kit. It's a competency that will take a lot longer to build and burnish than just slinging EDC to the sons of the city.
Axeguy
I feel the same way Axeguy. I've had some of my best knife related conversations on here. Not to mention I've bought some of my favorite knives here as well. Gavko Thresher, Garry Mcginnis Rowdy, Farrum Forge Gent. I hope the powers that be figure out how to straighten the ship before it hits the proverbial Iceberg. 🚢 😲.
I have no reason to shop your site any longer now that quilting has disappeared. I found some great products via quilting community but now that you did away w quilting... my true passion... I have no other reason to shop DROP.
(Edited)
Regarding pricing and value: Something I've noticed in the fountain pen world with other retailers is: limited-run, limited editions for specific retailers. Or bundles. I mention this because there is often negative feedback about pricing. eg: "I can get this for a few bucks more on Amazon". Well, of course. A lot of consumers don't realize how thin margins are, or that legit distributors are contractually required to keep a floor on pricing. So likely it's not possible to get insanely low pricing plus warranty coverage, for example. So how do you provide value? Come up with bundles or special runs that are unique, unavailable elsewhere. So, as I think Drop does with headphones, why not get a subject expert and create "only at Drop" bundles or limited editions for other communities that are passionate? This is where polls can help again. If Drop's main story is lowest price, Drop could end up circling the drain. Make Drop's main story about unique opportunities (for all sorts of enthusiasts).
I honestly believe this was a far better idea especially since it seemed to grow too big to fast instead of the alternative of trying to steer a sinking ship. I applaud the move and the candor I appreciate this place and I'm glad this wasn't sorry guys we have to close the doors because our dream sink us.Keep up the fight and I hope this wrinkle and slight restructure pays off ,so your ultimate dreams can be reached especially in such a volatile atmosphere.
So, basically, you could just summarize it as this: We used to have lots of manufacturers join us to provide products that the community loves. Over time we found that most of our customers like a specific group of manufacturers within each community. Moreover, some communities don't draw in as many customers as others. Because of these factors, we're going to limit our manufacturers, communities, and customer base to better prioritize our revenue streams that have a proven track record of success. In my opinion, it sounds like Drop is going to have about 1 to 2 years before they realize that the well is going to run dry. Eventually, all of their prospective customers will already have 17 DAC's, 13 hybrid tube amps, 12 keyboards, 42 custom keysets, and about 19 different knives in their pockets. At that point, they'll probably start bringing other communities and manufacturers back. Hopefully for them their customers will stick around until then. I won't.
(Edited)
azcs
Can never have enough keyboards tho.
How about a simple Home/Office/Garage community? This could encompass all the kitchen/baking, pens/pencils/inks/notebooks/art supplies, sewing/quilting, automotive, tools, sharpening equipment, etc. Leaving a community open for those users who recently lost their favorite communities, and a place for drops from those categories...without any pressure on you guys to keep any one type of product "stocked", if they're only offered now and again. If you find a deal on a pen one month, great! If not, no biggie. Ya know? It seems like part of the problem was in trying to be too specific in your categories sometimes. Right now there are kitchen shears, kitchen knives, wood carving tools, and sharpening stones in the EDC community....it doesn't really make any sense. No one is carrying those things and, aside from the sharpening stones, they aren't things that are even used in relation to your EDC items.
(Edited)
This is much more appreciated than the previous announcement, and flubs on the lack of announcements.... But, i guess this confirms that the polls have never had any purpose, and explains why things voted on in them never seemed to drop? Gave the illusion that the members had some input on what could be made available....but in reality, not so much. Don't get me wrong, it'd be great to have a subject matter expert at the head of every community. But really, someone with very little product knowledge could still source and negotiate if the polls were actually used as signs of what people want to buy, don't you think? Is what it is, it just strikes me as a bit funny....especially when you consider the people who have recently been running certain communities who didn't seem capable of understanding specifics about the products they were in charge of Hopefully at some point you'll find some way of managing this....or find some people who know about pens and pencils and pots and pans
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No need, I understand what busy work days are like lol I know you weren't trying to be wishy washy, i was saying that's the way Drop as a whole has felt for a while now, not your root specifically.
It's just sort of been all over the place... Looking like you're focusing on collabs, but saying you're mission as a group buy site hasn't changed (per Steve, in a discussion after the rebranding); up and down with discounts vs retail pricing; still having the community discussion boards, but having next to no 'official' Drop participation in them. It's been a confusing few months as a member. I'm sure it's a difficult business model to maintain (and even more difficult to have gotten started in the first place). The explanations do help highlight those facts, but I have to say I'm concerned about where this will end up if collabs are the main focus. Don't get me wrong, I've bought a few, and they've been great...but as time goes on, they aren't the real value bargains they were at the start. I have to use knives again as an example, because that's the majority of my interest here. We used to get killer deals on the FFxWE Ti/S35vn knives, really incredible bargains...and you sold them by the thousands. More recently we're seeing knives that use less expensive materials at twice the cost, and as such you're showing only a fraction of the sales. You can do super good bargain on an unknown knife, or you can do super high quality at a reasonable price....but trying for high end of the market, for the given materials, on an untested knife....you just can't get the same sales out of that. Especially after having a couple that had issues. Given the last couple I looked at, I'm not sure you can even do enough to stay afloat at the current trend. On a related note, and I know I've said this before, but it's insane that you can't get lower than average retail pricing deals on WE/Civivi knives, given the amount of business you've done with them. That alone speaks volumes to what I was saying about looking weak as a buyer when you can't negotiate an actual deal. And i don't want to rehash this whole issue, but while I have an ear that's listening, I hope you'll also be paying closer attention to the accuracy of the product descriptions going forward as well. You opened yourselves up to a lot of lawsuits recently, something like that happening certainly wouldn't improve things around here. I do hope you're right though, overall. I've heard there's a lot of *ahem* "restructuring" going on there since the, let's just say, no so he's heartily accepted rebranding. Here's hoping the replacements are given a clear directive and the changes result in a more organized structure, with better accuracy and improved communication 👍
Pity the way of business is not to hire 3 people for 3 jobs, but to try and make one person do it all.
It's good to see an acknowledgement of the shift in focus, and it brings certain changes of late into a new light. Thanks for the clear response. (And thanks for bringing writing back... even if no products right now)
That is a reasoned reaction to the reactors, and much appreciated. I'll stay tuned.
I feel like Drop is trying but at the end of the day it is a business and a small one at that. Perhaps, they grew a tad too quickly... and now they have to pull back and reorganize. Either way, I've found products I like here and learned new things. I've seen many complaints some sensible others whining. It is what it is. You can't please everyone, just look at their unique offerings as examples. With that said, in my honest opinion, they need to advertise and draw in more consumers. Nothing extreme but a paid sponsorship at enthusiast forums for audio, wrist wear, and outdoor enthusiasts might help.
(Edited)
*slowly lowers the torch and pitchfork*
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Lol Keep those ambers burning Kavik. 🔥🔥
T.willy
*gasp* no! My cat's name is amber! 😳 I'll keep the embers burning though lol (sorry, couldn't help myself haha)