Marketplace business model 1: Paperless Post
Paperless Post started in 2008 as the U.S. Postal Service’s biggest enemy — it encouraged people to email invitations and announcements, made pretty with hundreds of design templates. The site was free to use, though premium templates and envelope liners required prepaid “Coins.” In late 2012, to open another revenue stream, Paperless Post embraced paper after all, letting customers design a card at PaperlessPost.com and then send it electronically, via snail mail, or both. Alexa Hirschfeld told Mashable that 60% of Paperless Post users wanted paper stationery. “They’ve told us that they love Paperless Post, but there are certain times that they really need to use paper for its archival quality, for its ability to be saved and scrapbooked.” Meanwhile, digital innovation didn’t stall. Paperless Post has upped its aesthetic ante via revenue-share partnerships with J. Crew, Oscar de la Renta and Kate Spade, who lend designs to the site’s templates.
Lesson: Aesthetics matter.