Tech Startup of the Week: Citizen Made Lets Manufacturers Customize Products for Less

Rachel Brooks helps independent retailers optimize their online presence for “tailor-made” services

Citizen Made is the ecommerce platform for brands that make custom products (Image: Citizen Made)

Not every business is like Burger King. You can’t always “have it your way.” But now Citizen Made, a new e-commerce platform, is making it increasingly easier for brands and customers to create custom products online.

Traditionally, the online shopping process has been linear. For example, in the past, if a seller posted an image of a bike, the buyer could choose to buy it as is, or hunt through pages and pages of web posts on the seller’s site or on other sites to find the style of bike they wanted in the right color–with the right frame, seat, speed, and handle bars.

Unfortunately, for the seller, that search might take the buyer away from her page causing her to lose a sale. Even if the seller is able to customize the bike based on the buyer’s verbal or written instructions, the buyer will never see the finished product until after it’s built and paid for.

“There is a large set of brands and manufacturers that sell configurable or customizable products, but are unable to participate in e-commerce simply because…the experience of mixing, matching, and adding on options is generally unavailable,” says Rachel Brooks, who developed Citizen Made. “We aim to provide software tools so that [any brand is] able to open their business to the world via the Internet.”

With Citizen Made, the buyer can mix and match features to create, for example, the bike they’ve always dreamed of, without leaving the seller’s page; and Citizen Made produces an illustration that is a carbon copy of what the end product will look like before they even spend a dime.

While websites that allow shoppers to customize products aren’t new, it’s often been a costly, time consuming venture, especially for small, independent businesses. Citizen Made makes it possible for business owners to produce custom products online without having to learn any development skills to build it themselves or outsource the project to software development agencies who have pricey fees, says Brooks, who traveled to Silicon Valley to participate in the widely-acclaimed NewMe Accelerator.

Citizen Made licenses the software to businesses for a monthly fee that is tiered based on the number of transactions a company has within the context of the software. They also charge an initial setup fee for enterprise clients, which covers their unique needs for integration at scale.

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