Why not...?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DOORAG, Nov 27, 2012.

    DOORAG New Member
    Is there a way to find out how many people have purchased a certain item? If not, I think it would be a good thing to add to the website. Im interested to know what items are popular and how many people actually buy from shapeways... What do ya think?
  2. bartv
    bartv New Member
    The only place where you can see it now is on 'the Feed":


    (Click on 'Discover in the top menu). To make an object show up there, just add it to your favorites (or order it ;)


  3. Brick
    Brick Member
    but it doesnt look like it actually shows # of times bought, which is what he is asking....does it?
    DOORAG New Member
    yeah it just says when something is bought... I just think that it would be a good idea.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one that would like to see this feature...
  5. stop4stuff
    stop4stuff Well-Known Member
    I think you'd find that shop/model owners would need to consent to such data being released - I certainly expect to be asked before details of my model sales were made public.


  6. bartv
    bartv New Member
    Ah right! So it turns out that only Shapeways employees can actually see the sales data on that screen :)
  7. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    I can understand the privacy concerns being an issue and see no obvious way around them at the moment.

    However, this thread touches upon some questions that I have been thinking on. The implication from the Shapeways site is that one can set up a shop and sell to the world, and this is clearly very attractive. Anyone who uploads a design that is printable can sell their product, in theory. But which designs are actually selling? In which material? In what kind of quantities?

    So many of the featured designs, especially jewellery and home decoration items (think lampshades!!) while very attractive and unusual are eye-wateringly expensive and I suspect do not really sell. Presumably some items are selling though, and in decent quantities, and some hint of this information could help budding designers/shop-owners decide what products to aim for. If these products sell better then this would help spread the 3D word and hence the popularity/turnover of Shapeways. A truly virtuous circle.

    Just my 2 cents...
  8. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    Small counter-point for consideration: rather than people targeting cloned sales of "what's popular".. I contend that the sucess of Shapeways so far is that people can focus on designs they are passionate about.

    Don't chase the money.. chase the passion. You'll live happier.
  9. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Well, you can sort "by popularity" within the categories, though it is (perhaps deliberately)
    unclear whether this is measured in terms of sales, favorites or page views.
    On the other hand, what good would it do if you learned that the top shapeways sales were
    in the $140-170 price range, and were a graph of some lesser-known mathematical function,
    a WW1 fighter plane in 1:144 , an accurate model of some dinosaur, an intricate puzzle and a 1930s
    narrow-gauge locomotive ? (All these data completely made up for the sake of argument).
    You would not want to change your style or subject area just to squeeze into that same
    niche. Better put up a few variations of your own designs and just see for yourself which
    of them sells best.
    (About the expensive lampshades i am actually not sure - some people spend $400 on a plain
    table lamp - e.g. the Bauhaus-era designs by Wagenfeld, and the markup on a single such
    lampshade will probably equal that of a hundred simple ornaments or bracelets)
  10. stop4stuff
    stop4stuff Well-Known Member
    Too right!

    Shapeways is not about 'what has been done', Shapeways is about 'what can be done'!

  11. Brick
    Brick Member
    for me, I am just curious as to the sales because I want to know whether it's worth the time and effort to try and build and sell stuff. i.e. Can you make decent money at it...

    so if i had an idea of what the top products sold per week, that would let me know whether this could be a secondary income, or whether it's just something for fun, to build stuff for myself from time to time.

    i know it can depend on how much work i put in on getting the word around on my products, but I was wondering more about how Shapeways own advertising alone would impact sales of the top products. i.e. if that could earn enough to make it a second income
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  12. DOORAG
    DOORAG New Member
    That was the reasoning behind my interest in it also.
  13. stop4stuff
    stop4stuff Well-Known Member
    If your objective is to compete in a market, then yes, stats of what has gone before are very helpful in lining one's pocket.

    However, if your objective is to make money through presenting unique designs created via 3D printing then those stats mean nothing.

    There are established traditional markets that 3D printed models can compete with such as various scale model trains, rolling stock and gerenal scale accessories to fit.

    Jewellery also has its place, some designs would be far too expensive to recreate the master every time.

    Now here's the kicker...

    One design may take 5 hours to create, $50 to buy in the print (for photographing, videoing etc), but that one design can go viral and earn a year's money in one week.

    However, it happens that Shapeways has a pretty good business model and the returns from that 5 hours of your life & $50 spent are pretty much endless.

    Do some research into the kinds of models that go viral from Shapeways (hints, they're quirky, one off's, 'why didn't I think of that' s) and the research the designers of aforementioned results - and you found the niche.

    Rather than 'What things sell?', shouldn't the question be 'What are people looking for?'

    Shapeways is here for all to turn dreams into reality :)


  14. DOORAG
    DOORAG New Member
    I like what you said stop4stuff and I agree with you. I just heard about shapeways recently and just was curious to know whether people are just posting things witout anyone really buying or if there really was a significant sales rate as well, regardless of if you want to make money or not.
  15. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    On the other side of the coin, I don't mind sharing a few statistics from my shop.

    Of the 235 items in my shop, 36 have never sold. Interestingly enough, most of those unsold items are enlargements or changes requested thru members of the Shapeways forum that never turned into sales, many due to price expectations.

    For the core set of models (the other 200), I've sold over 3,500 in three years, and the total markup collected so far doesn't equal ONE of my monthly DayJob paychecks. (I think I'll keep my day job.)

    From my shop, 5 models have sold more than 100 units, 40 models have sold more than 20 units each.

    The two models yeilding the highest total markup to date have been:
    Rebel Switcher ($112 in markup so far)
    GM Fishbowl Bus ($110 in markup so far)

    Some of the models I have took as many as 40 hours to draw. If it has netted me only $100 in sales, that means I'm making about $2.50 per hour. There's a bunch of models that have only netted me $5 total markup... that's about $0.12 per hour.

    I Think I'll Keep My Day Job.

    But... never misunderstand me.. working with Shapeways and offering these items has been EXTREMELY rewarding. I get an incredible sense of fulfillment when I see one of my items sitting on someone's train layout.

    And, the markup I've collected so far has helped me amass quite a little pile of items here on my own train layout. For me, that's what it's all about.
  16. DOORAG
    DOORAG New Member
    Thank you for sharing that information. What program do you use to make those?
  17. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    I used Truespace for the two models linked above.

    A tutorial showing my methods is available on my website
  18. Brick
    Brick Member
    thanks for sharing your stats. I also enjoyed your tutorial from your website. Cheers!
  19. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    Yes, thanks indeed for sharing, most informative.

    To clarify my position I love the process and the capability that Shapeways allows. To be able to imagine an object, create it on my computer, upload it and get it printed and in my hands a few weeks later is truly exciting. (Ok, sooner would be better...) I have made things for a friend, jewellery for my wife and I have had a real thrill out of that.

    But this discussion, I thought, was about the commercialisation of one's ideas and in that case this information is not just about 'can I copy someone else to get a product that sells' but is the whole process worth it in the first place. In order to sell something you cannot really just use a 3d render, especially if it is a costly item, and so you need a print to photograph. And perhaps your first attempt is not quite right and so you need to tweak it and need another print. And if your product has a range of versions or can be shown off in several materials you need more prints.

    So this is where the info becomes useful. If my design costs 3 usd to print, sure I will get a version of each and every variation and not worry about design iterations. But if it costs 400 usd for a print I will only get it printed for myself, once, assuming that I want it in the first place and have not designed it as something that I think other people will like. Unless I firmly believe that such things do actually sell off Shapeways.

    I suppose my essential question is, apart from the Klondike designs which go viral is the shop side of Shapeways a "look I've designed this cool and unusual thing - would you like to buy it?" sort of thing or a real way of selling stuff?

  20. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    80% or more of my sales are generated because I actively particpate in an online community dedicated to Z scale model trains. (www.zcentralstation.com)
    There, the guys are constantly twisting my arm for specific designs, and I get pretty steady sales from the members and the people they tell outside the site.

    I'm not saying that you're going to be able to find a community that is interested in lampshades (or whatever), but you might look around a bit.
    Marketing is not my thing. I just keep repeating: "I'm not in sales."

    My passion is creating the models.