Sellit Launches e-Commerce App on Ning

Last Updated Sep 10, 2009 5:28 PM EDT

When we last checked in with Josh Manley, President of Sellit, the viral e-commerce company had just released its embeddable ShopBOT widget to help virtual shopkeepers franchise their operations across social media sites like Facebook. Sellit provides a "Social Media Marketing Platform," where e-merchants can connect with new buyers across numerous channels, all managed from one location.

Today, Sellit announced that it has launched a featured application over Ning Networks, the social platform that essentially allows users to create as many Facebook-like social networks as they wish, each according to a different interest or passion. Ning's internal figures indicate that 33 million members have set up 1.5 million networks, featuring everything from Neighborhood Watch-type groups, to huge hubs of alternative energy activists, or fan networks for rock stars.

Manley says Sellit now has "category exclusivity" in the featured section for e-commerce on Ning. "(This) should be a great day for us," he told me via email. "Ning Network creators will now be able use their own Etsy, Yahoo, CafePress or Cartfly to open up shop and begin selling on Ning. By default it actually appears on every members profile page. It will provide a seamless bridge between e-commerce and Ning networks."

With so many entrepreneurs setting up Mom and Pop type storefronts on the web, what Sellit offers them is an easy way to extend those operations across multiple venues, thereby reaching much more traffic than they could ever achieve through traditional advertising or marketing efforts.

Under Sellit's model, using one interface, merchants can turn their storefronts into mini-stops that can be shared anywhere on the web, on blogs, for example, or in MySpace. This distributed franchise model for e-commerce closely parallels the distributed content model for media companies -- one that Ning epitomizes.

Both Sellit and Ning, therefore, have taken user-generated content (UGC) to another level altogether, which makes this partnership an example of good alignment. From a media industry perspective, rather than continuing the rather outdated debate about "citizen journalists," it might be worthwhile for execs to study how these two innovative companies are facilitating UGC as essentially the core of their business models.

Media companies desperately need new business models; we all know that. Adding in much more e-commerce activity along the lines of Sellit's franchise shops might be a smart place to start.

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Note: This post has been slightly altered since being posted. The first sentence of the third paragraph was reworded to avoid a potential ambiguity.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.