Ecommerce for Crowdsourced Products

I recently posted a comment on the article The 3 Stages of Ecommerce Tools that made me start thinking about this particular need I have. I am reposting that comment here and expanding it a bit. It will probably help you to read mentioned article prior to reading the rest of this post to give you the context of what I am talking about.

The above article mentions Etsy, which is a website of crowdsourced products for sale by micro-retailers (individuals). In my estimation, we should be seeing many more of these types of websites. Some may sell digital goods like music and graphics, while others may sell clothing designed and produced by individuals, like t-shirts, dresses, etc.

My question is, could Magento or another ecommerce solution be used to create an Etsy-like website? I’ve played around with Magento and I’ve realized that all the product details, like pics and attributes, must be entered by an admin(s). It does not lend itself to allowing its members to self-maintain their own set of products. “Members” in the Magento sense, are just shoppers and they can contribute reviews, ratings, etc. However, Magento “members” cannot upload their own products, not even as provisional products which would later be approved (moderated) by the admin.

Which ecommerce players do you think are leaning towards providing the solution for making these types of websites? I foresee, entrepreneurs like myself, wanting to build their own Etsy-like websites, but presently I do not find the solutions for these types of websites.

For now all they can do is to try to mesh social network software with ecommerce solutions in order to provide the ability for members to upload and sell their own products. Keep in mind a product’s details can include text, pics, audio and video, in addition to tags, reviews, ratings, etc. Social network solutions, like Dolphin, provide some of these features, while ecommerce solutions like Magento provide the other half of the puzzle, which includes such things as inventory management, shipping estimates, cross-selling etc.

I know there is a Drupal extension for Magento, but I don’t know enough about Drupal to know for sure if this is what I need. It would be interesting to hear from anyone with any thoughts on using this Drupal extension for Magento.

As I write this posting, I just realized I should google “Etsy clone” or something of that nature (such as Zazzle) to location software I can try. I hope I find something soon because I urgently need to get my project going soon. By the way, Rob from Foodzie.com has kindly offered to give me some leads. Thank you! Please check out their wonderful site Foodzie.com. It looks like they may have explored this same need and implemented a solution.

I just found the blog post The elusive Opensource E-Commerce Holy Grail: Multi-Site, Multi-Store with many comments that could be useful to uncover the mystery.