BetaKit has covered the one-click selling trend extensively, profiling companies like Chirpify, ShopLocket and Gumroad that let people sell digital and physical goods either via a link, an embeddable widget, or directly from their social networks. Today startup Ribbon, formerly called Kout, is launching to take on the crop of one-selling startups, as well as traditional online selling tools. Launched in alpha earlier this fall, the company aims to make it easy for anyone to sell a digital file, physical item or service simply by sharing a link.
Hany Rashwan, founder & CEO of Ribbon, said the goal of Ribbon is to help everyone from the average consumer to celebrities with millions of followers monetize their online followings. ”We’re different from all of our competitors in that we allow you to sell across multiple platforms, that is our big focus,” he said. “I’m not a Gumroad where I focus solely digital goods, I’m not ShopLocket where it’s about embedding something on your blog to sell t-shirts, I really just care about monetizing your Facebook channel, your Twitter stream, your YouTube videos, all your different mediums that you have followers on.”
Ribbon’s platform is based around a one-page checkout that is customized based on which network a customer is coming from. To sell on Ribbon, merchants enter the name of the item, specify whether it’s a digital or physical good, or a service, and enter a price. Then they get a shortened Ribbon URL that they can then share on Facebook or Twitter, paste in a blog post, email, or anywhere else online, or share by embedding a Ribbon button on their website or blog. Merchants can further customize the product description, adding the quantity, adding a cover photo and description, and writing custom text for the email receipt.
The unique part about Ribbon is that it customizes the experience based on where a user is coming from. For example if someone is selling a one-hour consultation and they post the link to Facebook, anyone who clicks on it would be re-directed to a Facebook page with the listing to complete the transaction by entering their credit card details, rather than being redirected to Ribbon’s website. Users can also purchase an item by replying with the word “buy” in a Tweet, very similar to what Chirpify does on Twitter and Instagram, and they’re planning to add a way to purchase via Facebook comments next.
“There’s no elegant way of doing transactions, of getting paid, of buying and selling, inside Facebook, inside Twitter,” Rashwan said. “Our bigger mission is building the payment pipes across the decentralized web, from the social networks, to your email, to your blog, to mobile and offline.”
While right now Ribbon can send digital files to purchasers, sellers are responsible for sending physical goods to the buyer, but in the next few months they’re planning to add shipping options. Rashwan said their initial focus is on merchants who are selling regularly to their own followings, which also sets it apart from tools like ShopLocket that might target a more casual, one-time seller. He also said they want to have a focus on one-click checkout, since users who purchase on one platform, for example Facebook, can save their credit card details so they have a faster experience the second time they purchase.
Ribbon’s pricing is 5 percent plus $0.30 of each transaction, similar to Gumroad’s 5 percent + $0.25 per-transaction fee, and Chirpify’s 5 percent per-transaction fee. That’s higher than ShopLocket’s 2.5 percent per-transaction fee, but because that platform is built on PayPal and Stripe’s payments platforms, merchants also have to pay those transaction fees. Merchants on Ribbon can get paid via wire transfer, a check in the mail, or PayPal.
For merchants looking to sell online, Ribbon is far from the only option. There’s PayPal, online storefronts like Shopify, and of course the new crop of “sell with a link” startups. Rashwan said their biggest differentiator is that they allow merchants to sell across multiple platforms in-stream. ”We are not commerce for Twitter, we are not commerce for Facebook. We are commerce for whatever platform you happen to be on,” he said.
During the company’s alpha testing period Rashwan said they saw everything from math tutoring sessions to ticket sales being sold on the platform. They have approximately 3,000 users, with thousands of items/services sold to date. The company, which was part of the AngelPad accelerator in 2011, might have a simple and easy way for merchants to sell online, and for consumers to purchase a digital file, physical item, or service. But with so much competition out there, from the traditional online selling tools like Etsy, PayPal and eBay to a new crop of startups, it will have to prove it can really improve a merchant’s bottom line to get them on board en masse.