An Ecommerce Site That Doesn’t Accept Money

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for retailers. Amazon packages are being delivered at warp speed, people are doing their last minute online shopping, and retailers are glad to be raking it in.

But, one ecommerce site isn’t trying to get you to fork over your cash. Instead, it’s taking feel-good to a whole new level by only accepting talent as a payment method.

It’s called The Merit Shop, and it was founded by Daniel Soares, the creative/art director at AKQA San Francisco and Pedro Sampaio, a freelance art director and Miami Ad School student. Developer Joao Stein helped develop the site. If you want to “order” something from the ecommerce store, you have to be the first to submit an example of your talent. You can submit via YouTube or Instagram.

Once a user sends in the link to the video showcasing their talent, Soares and Sampaio review and verify the content. They then send a confirmation email notifying the user that “payment” has been received.

User Frederico Roberto bought a pair of sneakers by sharing a video of himself making a honking sound. Neil Lopez bought a Tamagotchi (every 90s kid’s dream!) by sharing a video of himself doing standup. Of course, the supply of goods is limited, so you have to act quickly.

The concept is cute and fun, but the thought behind it is actually very serious. Soares and Sampaio came up with the idea after a long discussion about how money is dividing the world.

“Once someone invented the concept of money, so we though: Why not re-invent it?” Soares explained. Don’t worry. Soares and Sampaio aren’t that naïve. “Of course, it’s not a concept that would work for real,” Soares said. “But it works in our little corner of happiness.”

The products were purchased with Soares and Sampaio’s own money, which they don’t expect to earn back. For the two ad execs, it’s a cultural experiment to get excited about in a world completely obsessed with money.

They hope that people will continue to participate in the project and that eventually retailers and brands will get in on the action. That’s the only way to sustain the model on a long-term basis, as Soares and Sampaio are currently investing all of their own money.

Besides being a great cultural experiment, the design of the site is pretty fantastic, too. The user experience is clear and concise, the imagery is beautiful, the colors and typography are wonderful. The site goes to show that putting designers in charge of a social project is usually a good idea.

Check out the site here, and see if you can snag a product with your unique talent!

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