One of the most interesting developments recently in online commerce is how easy it’s become for anyone to sell anything online with a link, Tweet or Instagram picture. Companies like Gumroad, Chirpify and Soldside have helped make it simple for sellers to cut and paste and do business directly through familiar channels where customers are already hanging out.
Ribbon, a new stealth startup with seed funding from Draper Associates, is now trying to get into the act with a commerce tool that it believes is even more flexible for sellers. Like Gumroad, it allows people to create a link that allows customers to buy a product, either digital or physical. And like Chirpify, which works on Twitter and Instagram, or Soldsie, which enables sales through Facebook, Ribbon is also designed to work well within existing social channels.
Using one URL, Ribbon can customize the experience for each platform. So if a person clicks on a link in Facebook, they can get taken to a Facebook app, where they can enter in their payment info and check-out. In Twitter, which doesn’t have its own app platform, a user will get taken to a special page made for Twitter users. Tumblr and WordPress users can also include their own Ribbon button that pulls up a window inside their site through which visitors can buy from. The service also works with YouTube and Pinterest, so a seller can show a video or a picture of a product or performance and then ask a viewer to purchase afterward.
Ribbon founder Hany Rashwan told me the service has built its own payment infrastructure to handle all credit cards, which allows it to save on interchange fees and pay out to sellers through the mail, wire transfers, ACH transfers and also PayPal. He said that separates it from other competitors like Chirpify, which works through PayPal or Gumroad, which was built using Stripe’s APIs.
He believes that Ribbon is also a more powerful tool for selling on a number of platforms since it can provide a different experience for users based on where they click on a link. And with one account, users can buy from multiple platforms without having to enable Ribbon each time.
Rashwan started coding when he was 11 years old and made more than $200,000 as a teenager running advertising-supported fan sites for popular games. He attended Ohio State before dropping out to pursue his startup dreams. The idea for Ribbon came after he and a friend complained about the check-out process for many online transactions, which can often take people out of their original website. What began as a way to simplify the checkout process become Ribbon.
The service, which has been been in private alpha for the last month, charges 5 percent + 30 cents per transaction. That’s a little more expensive than Gumroad, which charges 5 percent + 25 cents per transaction.
I’m excited to see more selling tools emerge. We’re creating a new economy that allows anyone to become a merchant. Platforms like Etsy and Shopify have made it simple to become an online seller. But services like Ribbon, Gumroad and Chirpify are making it even easier for anyone to start doing business. This is also important as people spend more time on mobile devices. With simple tools like this, it makes it easy for someone to make quick impulse buys from a mobile device.