When Will Robinson and Jacob Krupnick launched Subports in 2009 as a "techie, Brooklyn-based, text-to-buy business," they targeted artists, designers (including fashion label Vena Cava), and record stores (such as NYC's iconic Other Music) as partners for their mobile commerce startup.
“It’s not designed for bulk buying at Walmart. You can only get one item per text message (except for event tickets),” as Krupnick told Dwell magazine.
“People are craving to see and own items made by hand again," added Robinson. "Technology is advancing rapidly yet at the same time we are embracing locally grown foods, handicrafts/fashion from Etsy, and small self-sustaining prefab housing like what you see in Dwell magazine — as opposed to big and wasteful McMansions."
As writer Miles Klee comments: “With its cross-pollination of swoony art and mischievous attitude, independent salesmanship and sleek design, Subports is an intriguing mutant: a website that dissolves old networks to achieve a porous and delightfully strange new form of consumption."
Positioning the service as a renegade retail hub, the mobile payments solution claims to work with all cell phones. At its core is its proprietary ‘text-to-buy’ functionality that enables sellers to use Subports’ back-end to create product codes and handle order fulfillment, making them virtual vendors online and real world. Anything legal and license-free can be sold.
The selling points for vendors and brand partners, some of whom participated in last year's "Clairvoyant" pop-up shop retail experiment: It’s quick and easy to set-up an account and create points of sale wherever users can communicate online (including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook); no HTML required; no shopping carts; no registration, user names or customer passwords are required to buy products; brands can integrate into their existing e-commerce offering; and customer billing information is encrypted using secure socket layer technology (SSL).
When a product is sold, the seller pays a 5% flat transaction fee. Like Amazon's “one click,” but “one text,” it’s easy to opt out of overly impulsive orders by replying to the text message receipt with a “NO” which cancels it. Artists receive the lion’s share of the sale, as opposed to traditional gallery splits of 50/50.
Asked about the best part of developing Subports, Robinson told Dwell, “Thinking about ways of destroying retail and then rebuilding it. Taking mundane things — like customer service — and making them unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.”