Massdrop (www.massdrop.com) is a group-buy website located out of New Jersey where people commit to buying a product. Once enough people commit to buying the product, the price begins to drop. After the drop has ended, Massdrop will place an order with the manufacturer. Massdrop has several different “communities” that it uses to list like products in the same area. A few of these communities include: Everyday Carry for knives and useful tools that you can keep in your pocket, Audiophile to suit your listening needs, and Tech for gadgets like a Raspberry Pi or other devices. Those are just a few of the (currently) 13 communities that Massdrop has to offer.
As an example, we’ll look at the DXRacer OH/IS11 Iron Series Chair. The drop can be located at https://www.massdrop.com/buy/dxracer-oh-is11-iron-series-chair. You’ll need to authenticate with Facebook or create an account using an email address; we suggest anonymizing services like Mailinator.com.
Each product has different requirements for the total number of people needed in order to get the discounted price. When the chair first “dropped” or came available for purchase, it was listed for $399.99. As more people purchase the chair, the price drops by $10 with every five people until it reaches the lowest price available of $369.99.
If you are interested in the product but only want it if it reaches the maximum discount, you can commit to buy the product at the lowest price. IMAGE (Commit) To compare the requirements for purchase, we will look at some GMK QMX-Clip Sound Dampening Brackets (located at https://www.massdrop.com/buy/gmk-sound-dampening-brackets).
These brackets are used to dampen the sound coming from a mechanical keyboard and are much cheaper than the chair. In order for it to be cost effective for both Massdrop and GMK, more people need to purchase the clips in order to justify a group-buy discount. In this case, at least 50 people are needed to get a discount with 100 people needed to reach the maximum discount.
Now, before you rush onto the site and place a bunch of orders, there are a few issues to understand about Massdrop.
One major complaint is the amount of time that it takes to receive a package. For example, I ordered a wicked set of keycaps on September 30,2015 (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/danger-zone-sa-keycap-set). The keycaps (I know, they’re badass huh?) didn’t arrive until February 17, 2016. Four and a half months is almost unheard of to wait for a product to reach you, especially when Amazon Prime will ship me something in 2 days. One reason is that it was a custom set of keycaps that was made specifically for those who purchased it from Massdrop. The other reason is that your order doesn’t drop ship directly to your door. The manufacturer sends the entire order to Massdrop who then sorts the order and ships it to the customer. I have since purchased other products from Massdrop and both of those orders took about three weeks.
Another major complaint that I have seen, especially recently, is that for products that are not custom made (think knives, chairs, headphones, etc.) it is possible to find the exact same or very similar product for the same price (give or take $5-10) on a major online retailer like Amazon or eBay. In that case, is it worth a few dollars extra to have your product within a week, or are you ok waiting significantly longer to receive it from Massdrop?
Nevertheless, I have used and will continue to use Massdrop.com and watch for new drops that happen daily. If I feel that it is a good deal, I will do my research to make sure that I cannot find the same product for cheaper elsewhere, and if I can’t, I will buy from Massdrop. As a price-conscious consumer, it would be unwise to do differently. As a techie, how can I help myself?
[Daniel Clark is an up-and-coming IT and security consultant in Albuquerque, NM, USA. This is his first contribution to School for Hackers, with more articles on technology and related goodies to come.]