CAMBRIDGE, MA – CustomMade, known for its custom wood products online marketplace, launched a buying platform that allows down payments and payment-on-completion - features not ordinarily available through rival payment systems such as PayPal.
CustomMade partnered with WePay to build the payment system into its website, providing a "seamless user experience along with increased transparency and security," the company said of the new service.
CustomMade, launched by in 1996 by woodworker Ted Whitenkraus was acquired by entrepreneurs Mike Salguero and Seth Rosen in 2009, who raised millions in venture capital from Google and other sources (including $18 million in June 2013) to expand it into a large scale two-sided marketplace. Wood products providers grew from 350 to the current 7,500 custom woodworkers and craftsmen, among CustomMade's 13,000 "Makers" - independent artisans and craftspeople - who sell wares to consumers and some commercial customers.
The new WePay system was also important as CustomMade switched last year from a subscription business. Makers formerly paid $350 annually to be members and sell at its site. Now CustomMade membership is free to woodworkers and other artisans; CustomMade takes 10% of each sale conducted over its site.
“CustomMade’s payments flow is particularly challenging, as we process large transactions in multiple steps over a multi-week period," noted CustomMade COO Matt Zisow. "Using WePay, we can now collect payments from customers in a way that’s completely secure, and then pay out our Makers in a timely and convenient manner.”
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Before bringing the payments in-house, CustomMade CEO Mike Salguero says several payment systems were reviewed. WePay was selected based on customer support capabilities, and its ability to accept several forms of payment, including credit cards and bank account transactions.
"It's the first time in history, that I know of, that a company has gotten a payment platform for the custom industry that allows for a 50% payment up front and 50% on completion," Salguero says. "That's technically against the terms and conditions of PayPal. CustomMade's WePay is the first place makers can transact safely online."
CustomMade has positioned its business as a system for making buying custom woodworking and other projects as a viable alternative to traditional retail. It has also moved into higher end built-in wood projects in both commercial and residential markets - some billing as high as $100,000.
To make it easier for prospects to buy, CustomMade established a Concierge Service last year aimed at buyers who want to show custom woodworkers photos of potential projects as design starting points.
To support its Concierge Service and to reach into the custom built interior business including commercial architectural millwork and residential cabinetry, CustomMade established a service center in Las Vegas - the location selected around the time Salguero was in town leading a workshop at the AWFS Fair 2013 woodworking show.
"The Las Vegas initiative follows a hand-to-hand combat sales model," says Salguero. "Some items and projects don’t happen online." Citing large-scale contracts such as the interiors of dorms and commercial businesses, Salguero says, "We have seen some big projects – over $100,000. We want to do more of that, so we are building and scaling a team in Vegas to help us get there.”