October 31, 2012 at 09:00 AM EDT
Payments Startup Buck Launches Stores, A Pinterest-Like Platform Allowing Publishers To Earn Money From Their Recommendations
Buck , a mobile payments startup previously known as Billing Revolution , is today heading into a new vertical with the debut of Buck Shops. These shops are e-commerce storefronts whose purchasing experience is powered by Buck's single-click credit card checkout, announced earlier this year.
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Buck, a mobile payments startup previously known as Billing Revolution, is today heading into a new vertical, with the debut of Buck Shops. These shops are e-commerce storefronts whose purchasing experience is powered by Buck’s single-click credit card checkout, announced earlier this year.

The shops are currently targeting magazines, publishers, bloggers and other “trendsetters” who can use the new platform to set up a free shop to showcase the products they review or recommend to their communities. You can think of these as something like an alternative to Amazon’s affiliate storefronts, for example, except that the inventory they contain doesn’t come from Amazon, of course. It comes from the inventory that merchants have uploaded into Buck’s database directly. Generally speaking, the idea here is that by partnering with publishers and trendsetters, the merchants will follow on as well, because they’ll want to have their products recommended by those with the power to drive sales.

“We’re not trying to be the merchant’s only e-commerce site,” clarifies Buck CEO Andy Kleitsch. “Most merchants already have their own e-commerce site. We’re simply another distribution channel for those merchants to reach a broader audience.”

The shops are designed using the now-common Pinterest user interface involving an image pinboard layout. There are photos of products, a link for more details, a comments section, a favoriting button (“buck-it,” which ahem, doesn’t inspire me to think “favorite,” but I digress…) and a green “Buy” button. Shoppers aren’t redirected off-site, but can immediately purchase from the online store itself. It’s like a Pinterest, that, well, actually has a monetization model.

Merchants are paid immediately, and they determine their commission rates – not the shop creator or Buck. As of today, there are only a few official launch partners, including a group of Seattle merchants, Bigelow in New York, and a few others. But Buck has worked with major brands in the past, including Glamour, Condé Nast, L’Oreal, and more, which is where it got the idea for the shops.

“What we heard from publishers time and time again is that they want to get in the e-commerce game, wanted to promote products and drive sales, but they didn’t want to be responsible for credit card processing, customer service, fulfilling the product,” says  Kleitsch. Publishers just wanted to monetize their audience, he adds.

Calling this an e-commerce storefront is actually a misnomer. The system works on desktop, tablet and mobile. While users who sign in with a username and password can favorite things and follow shops, signing up for an account isn’t required for purchasing. Instead, a first-step buyer is required to fill out the necessary information for purchase (a name, shipping address, email – or whatever the merchant requires), and that information is associated with a device ID and stored in the cloud. Upon repeat visits, the customer is immediately recognized, and the information is pre-filled by Buck. Obviously, this “one click” experience is most beneficial on mobile.

The Buck Shops platform is launching today, and there is no charge for influencers and publishers who want to set up a store, which they can do so from here.



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