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Shopify launches Sello, a mobile commerce app for novices

Sello is a free app-based platform that allows anyone to create an online store, share products on social networks and take payments directly from a smartphone.

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Thanks to today's business technology landscape, it doesn't take a savant to figure out how to sell things over the Internet.

But the process of setting up an online store, curating inventory and setting up a payments system is still a barrier to some would-be independent sellers who might be discouraged by unfamiliar requirements.

Enter Sello, a free app-based platform that allows anyone to create an online store, share products on social networks and take payments directly from a smartphone.

Sello launched today as the brain child of small business e-commerce platform provider Shopify, which generally targets small business merchants with access to customizable store templates, marketing tools, sales analytics and inventory management to help them with the jump into online retail.

But Sello is not geared toward the seasoned online merchant already using Shopify's platform.

"Sello is for people and Shopify is for businesses," said Chris Lobay, the director of product for Shopify. "We understand the difficulty in selling. We focused a lot of attention on what we call the core flow, which is adding a product, sharing to social networks and receiving orders. All of those have been looked at closely and simplified to their core elements."

Sello is offered as a free iOS and Android app, where the user only pays the processing fees from their payment provider. So far the app allows the acceptance of most major credit cards as well as PayPal.

Sello is a first of it's kind for Shopify, but it's just one of a growing number of apps designed to make casual selling and e-commerce approachable for the masses. Similar apps include LetGo, which is billed as a 24/7 mobile flea market, and OfferUp, which takes a hyper-local approach to the mobile marketplace.

Sello's greatest advantage initially is probably scale. The app is available today in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Beyond that, Sello is, in a way, an on-ramp to Shopify's e-commerce platform. Once a novice seller establishes a relationship with Sello, Shopify is the next logical link in the chain to becoming a full-blown online merchant.

But there is a catch. For now Sello is not browsable or searchable, meaning there's no way for anyone to discover products without first clicking on a link that's been shared to social channels. Obviously this makes the app extremely limited to one's cyber connections.

According to Lobay, the goal is to iterate on the app as feedback rolls in.