Marrying Mobile Computing Devices to Social Networks Democratizes E-Commerce

Michael Vizard
Sep. 25 2012, 08:00AM EDT

There’s an e-commerce revolution coming that will further blur the boundaries that have traditionally existed between buyers and sellers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it may take some getting used to in terms of its potential impact on the relationships people have with one another on social networks.

Ministore, a startup company based in New York, is harnessing that power of social networking APIs to eliminate much of the friction that currently prevents most people from using social networks to buy and sell goods and services on social networks. Ministore has created an application for smartphones and tablets that allows people to take a photo of an item, and then instantly transfer that picture to not only their own social network page, but also a network of people that have agreed to promote that product or service in return for a commission. Once more, Ministore automates the process of attaching terms and conditions via a sales filter it has developed to those offers.

Ministore CEO and founder Geoff Grandberg says the company also intends to recruit people to opt into a program where they will be given a chance to resell one item a day selected by Ministore. In essence, Grandberg says Minitstore will act as a curator in terms of determining what product to sell and then take a 5 percent commission on those sales. The people reselling products will also get a 5 percent commission, says Grandberg, which means the seller gets to retain 90 percent of the revenue.

That approach could wind up radically transforming everything from how simple yard sales are conducted to the way transactions for used cars or luxury goods are sold online. Instead of relying on Amazon or eBay has destination sites, Grandberg envisions ever user of a Facebook or Twitter potentially becoming a distribution channel for goods and services. Grandberg says small companies and even individual users will be attracted to Ministore because all they have to do is use a camera on a mobile computing device to sell almost anything. The connections to the social network APIs along with the actual application of terms and conditions is all automated.

Of course, this may complicate relationships on social networks. A lot of “friends” on Facebook, for example, might wind trying to sell something to almost everyone they know. At the same time, however, Grandberg argues that there are a lot of good and services that people are interested in; they just aren’t aware they exist. Ministore represents a way to bring buyers and sellers together in the most frictionless way possible.

As smartphones and tablets increasingly become electronic wallets, it only natural to expect people to want to use them to not only interact with each other, but also try and make some actual money. That may require some new rules when it comes to transparency and full disclosure on social networks, but the need for those rules is already long overdue anyway.

Michael Vizard

Comments

Comments(1)

geoff

Thanks for a great write up -- we're all very excited about making the ecommerce playing field all a little bit flatter for everyone.