The New E-Commerce Site That Doesn’t Want Your Money

Imagine that you could buy things from a store without it costing you a cent. That’s the idea behind a feel-good e-commerce shop started by two ad creatives.

It’s called The Merit Shop, and the only payment method the store accepts is “talent.”

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The Merit Shop is the brainchild of Daniel Soares, creative/art director at AKQA San Francisco, and Pedro Sampaio, a freelance art director and Miami Ad School student, with the help of developer Joao Stein. In order to procure something from the online store, you have to be the first to submit an example your talent — either by YouTube video or Instagram. Once users send in the link to the video showcasing their special skill, Soares and Sampaio review and verify the content, and then send an email confirmation notifying them that their payment has been received.

For example, Frederico Roberto bought a pair of sneakers by sharing a video of himself making a “honk sound,” and Neil Lopez bought a Tamagotchi by sharing a video of himself doing standup. The supply is limited, so people have to act quickly.

As Soares explained, he and Sampaio came up with the idea for their e-commerce site after getting into a discussion about money and how it was dividing the world.

“Once someone invented the concept of money, so we thought: Why not re-invent it?” explained Soares. “Of course, it is not a concept that would work for real, but it works in our little corner of happiness.”

Soares and Sampaio bought the products on sale at the Merit Shop with their own money, which they’re not expecting to earn back. For them, it is a cultural experiment that they are excited about.

“This project is not about us,” said Saores. “We would love to make it a long-lasting platform, and for that, we’d need support from other people.”

Their hope is that people will continue to participate and that eventually retailers and brands will get involved too and participate in this fun, feel-good (and decidedly nontraditional) way of exchanging goods.

“Making an idea happen costs you a lot, a lot more than just money, but in the end its all worth it,” said Soares. “This project has already been a great ride.”

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