Latvian startup Sellfy today announced that it has completed raising a seed round of funding from angel investors, including Skype co-founder Toivo Annus. The startup allows anyone to create their own online sales site for digital goods, without any kind of technical skills or web development expertise, and also now incorporates an affiliate rewards program to help merchants try to jump-start the virality of their online products.
With Sellfy, anyone selling an ebook, song, album or design services, for example, can create their own sales platform in a matter of minutes. Payments are handled via PayPal, and Sellfy charges 5 percent on top of the standard PayPal transaction fee to cover costs of storage and delivery and generate revenue. For self-publishers and others looking to bypass traditional methods of distribution in exchange for a bigger cut of the total asking price of their products, it’s a good deal. But on the other hand, you don’t get the same kind of exposure and marketing that can come with big online marketplaces like iTunes and Amazon’s media stores.
That’s why Sellfy introduced its affiliate program, which Sellfy c0-founder and CEO Maris Dagis described in an interview as a way for sellers to super-charge interest in their offerings. “[The affiliate program] allows sellers to give recognition for basically anyone who’d like to recommend the product to their friends,” he said. “For example, if a musician publishes his album, he can offer discounts if customers recommend it on Facebook or Twitter, or pay commissions to bloggers if they recommend the album to their audiences.”
The promotion component is important, and Dagis says we’ll see more of that from Sellfy to come. “We also are building different tools, like coupon codes, which are launching very soon, and different types of campaigns to help merchants sell their products,” he said. “We want to also offer customization options for merchants, so that they can build from their existing sites and logos with the checkout experience.” There are also plans to capitalize on buying habits of Sellfy customers to generate recommendations, which could raise awareness about other products on the service and contribute to merchants’ overall marketing goals.
The startup also wants to expand into real-world goods, according to Dagis, and this seed round will help them figure out what’s required to make that happen and start to put those plans in motion.
Of course, to get where it wants to go, Sellfy will have to both take on the established players, many of which have begun offering self-publishing options (like Amazon), and square off against other new ecommerce startups like Gumroad for online goods and ShopLocket for real-world sales. The key to unlocking the potential of this market might be setting up a truly appealing and effective marketing and promotion offering, since that’s going to be the difference between success and failure for individual merchants using these platforms. If that’s the case, Sellfy is investing in the right direction.