Last year, Dropbox released the beta of Shop, its new commerce platform, giving content creators a lightweight e-commerce store for downloadable digital products.
Dropbox Store entered its public beta in April 2022, and more recently the company began inviting creators to build a store and sell.
Dropbox Shop responds to a trend in commerce, an explosion in the sale of ebooks, music, art, videos, templates, snippets and courses created by creators.
Creators are the entrepreneurs of the engagement economy. Creators connect with consumers, build digital relationships, and ultimately sell digital products and services.
Khemaridh (Khe) Hy is an example. Hy spent 15 years as a Wall Street executive, including more than eight years as chief executive of BlackRock, a multinational investment firm that manages trillions in assets.
In a interviewHy said he had made as much as “seven figures” in a single year but was unhappy with what he was doing for a living.
Hy became a creator, focusing on productivity. He hosts four-week live classes. He blogs at Rad Readings and has an associated newsletter.
Another example is Thomas Frank, who grew up a large audience on YouTube, also focusing on productivity. Like many creators, he generated revenue through sponsorships – think influencer marketing – and ads on platforms. But more recently, he sold digital templates for Notion, the project management and note-taking software.
The Notion model sold by Frank – called “Ultimate Brain” – is a downloadable set. The sales process is identical to a typical checkout process on popular e-commerce platforms. However, it does not require physical inventory management.
Also consider Katelyn Bourgoin, who founded four companies, including a creator-type company called customer fieldwhich helps merchants sell products and services through digital cheat sheets to collect customer feedback.
Hy’s courses, Frank’s Notion templates, and Bourgoin’s cheat sheets don’t fit well into established e-commerce platforms. They could sell on Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento, but they don’t.
Their products can be found on platforms such as Podia, Gumroad, ConvertKit, and several other creator-focused networks. This is where Dropbox Shop comes in.
The Creator software is fragmented. There are many niche offerings. And many of these software tools are converging on e-commerce.
- Shopify, the leader in e-commerce platforms, has launched an in-bio link tool for creators.
- Epic Games, which makes Fortnite, bought Bandcamp to expand its Creator Marketplace capabilities.
- And in addition to Shop, Dropbox has launched a service (Capture) to collect screenshots, screen recordings, gifs and audio files. Dropbox has also launched a video sharing service called Replay.
Land grabbing by the creator
It’s as if software publishers are taking land away from creators. Every company tries to develop superior features to attract top creators.
That last part – attracting the best creators – is important because people like Hy, Frank, and Bourgoin aren’t just creator commerce software customers. They will likely be paid affiliates and influencers.
The complex relationship between creators and the various software-as-a-service companies they use is one of the drivers of the convergence mentioned above.
Imagine a scenario where a creator works with three SaaS partners to sell an ebook. The creator could use Dropbox to store the e-book, an email newsletter service to engage subscribers, and an e-commerce platform such as Gumroad to facilitate transactions.
Every SaaS company has a share of the creator’s business and praise. The company grows with better core competencies, attracting more creators.