Group Buy (or GB) is the process in which an idea, organized through a collective purchase, allows the custom creation, and distribution of new products, such as a keycap set or keyboard. In addition, through the number of sales worldwide, a product (that would not exist otherwise) is able to exist and achieve lower pricing, through economies of scale. Usually, this means that a certain volume is needed in order to reach production.
Through these forums, like Geekhack, Reddit, or keebtalk, discussions on what kits should be included within the set, pricing, the colour schemes, render images, and other products such as desk mats, cables, and artisan keycaps
Usually, a Group Buy product goes through several stages before it gets to your door. Here is a rough outline of that process from initiation to completion:
- Interest Check (or IC) is the first step of the chain, and where designer or vendor puts out the "idea" or design of the product in order to measure interest, demand or feedback. Often, the project may change in order to satisfy a greater number of people or improve the design through community feedback . You can often choose to leave your email address in the survey, or join chat room to be informed with updates.
- Development: At some point, the designer or vendor, will finalize the design, share all available info, and start obtaining quotes. Once this is complete, the IC is considered finished and "Group Buy dates" will be announced. Marking the beginning of the Group Buy stage
- Group Buy: During this stage, interested customer pre-order said items in order to back the project. Generally, vendors posts the amount of sales needed in order to make the product possible. Group Buy dates vary, but tend to be about 1 month.
- Waiting: If the project was backed successfully. The vendor places the final order to the manufacturer, who will begin production at this stage. Updates will be released throughout, like when color-matching samples are done, but generally, this is the period where the most waiting occurs. Typically customers wait 8 months to 1.5 years to recieve their final sets
- Fulfillment: After the wait, the items will be shipped from the manufacturer to the vendor, after which vendors will ship the items to your door.
Watch out for:
A group buy does not last forever!
A Group Buy has set dates where customers Pre-Order if they are interested in the product. Most projects do not come back. That means that a Group Buy date is the best chance to get the project to your door, at the cheapest price. In fact, keycap sets are often traded, bought, and sold for those that missed the Group Buy dates, almost always at a significant mark up in price.
Vendors? Proxy? Where do I buy?
"Vendors" are online E-commerce sites that focus on keyboards. Because of the complicated and expensive logistics involved, often times a project brings vendors of different continents in order to assist in the sale and distribution of the project. "Proxies" are vendors that will be carrying the Group Buy for their region.
For example, Eloquent Clicks is a keyboard vendor in the EU, therefore, we accept all European sales of the Group Buy projects that we are affiliated with.
You can always see the vendors carrying the project for your region on the Group Buy (usually Geekhack)
Cancelling, refunding a Group Buy order?
Canceling policies vary from vendor to vendor, but if the GB has ended, usually vendors will not accept any cancelations.
This is because the final orders are placed with the manufacturer. Because of the nature of Group Buys, this makes it difficult to change an order, since the cost of manufacturing, product pricing, shipping pricing, all change depending on the number of people, who backed the product.