Jason Feifer at Fast Company badgered his way into interviewing a very random and very successful online company he stumbled upon called C&A Marketing, whose business model is based on reading product reviews on Amazon and manufacturing products to fill in the gaps of what people want.
Each buyer has a specialty–beach products, cellular accessories, and so on. Their job is to scour the web to learn all the features people wish a product had, and hire a manufacturer, often in China, to make the desired version. Pikarski lets each buyer create their own Hipe-style brand name, and order anywhere from a dozen to a truckload of units. If they sell well, the product is renewed. Otherwise, it’s junked.
So dark, so brilliant.
Most manufacturers used [Amazon and Ebay] as a place to sell, but they’re actually giant laboratories. In the past, say, an audio company would have to make many speakers–otherwise, who would take them seriously? But on Amazon, the consumer doesn’t look at a brand’s full line of products; she looks at Amazon’s full line, meaning a tiny company with one speaker can compete against anyone.
This case seems fairly benign, though the potential problems with an online marketplace contextually legitimizing third-party transactions that the marketplace doesn’t necessarily investigate or endorse are crazy to think about.