The Shopping Mall powered by Payvment, a Facebook ecommerce platform, launched three weeks ago, offering consumers more than 50,000 retailers to choose from with a single shopping cart feature. Now, the mall is adding nearly 300 storefronts daily and has more than 1 million products.
"We wanted to reinvent what shopping would mean in the social media context," said Christian Taylor, Payvment CEO.
The shopping mall is essentially an extensive directory of all the ecommerce stores on Facebook already using Payvment’s retail app, with retailers ranging from celebrity designers such as model/actress Molly Sims and designer Althea Harper to local craft merchants. Products run the gamut as well, from clothing and health and beauty products to electronics and sporting goods.
The mall offers Facebook shoppers the ability to "like" products, which will aid in generating recommendations, creating a personalized shopping experience based on the shopper’s social graph. By allowing the app, Facebook users are agreeing to let the application have access to information from their profiles.
The dashboard also displays what "Your Friends like," which is how the experience becomes social. Their "likes" work to further enhance product suggestions. Additionally, a comment and review section allows shoppers to leave feedback for individual merchants and post it to their News Feeds, thus offering another social way for their friends to find items.
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"The idea really came from a need to level the playing field and make smaller retailers more discoverable. Each merchant still has their individual Facebook page, but we came up with a way to find all the pages in one place," said Taylor. "All the components were already there."
Shoppers can also view which items are trending, or "Most liked," and the search system resets every hour, so the shopper has the opportunity to view the most recently popular products. This feature also reveals to merchants what products are selling the most, so they can adjust their marketing strategies or offer promotions or discounts.
Building brand discovery, not ecommerce
According to Taylor, building a storefront is free, for now, and only takes about 15 minutes. He says the Palo Alto-Calif.-based company is offering the service for free because it’s most important to first extend the platform to retailers, gather feedback and improve the app before launching a pay-to-play business model.
The only stipulation is Payvment asks that every merchant provide feedback about the platform. Taylor says that retailers signing up for storefronts right now will be "grandfathered in" and never have to pay for the service.
Althea Harper, fashion designer and runner-up on season six of the popular show "Project Runway" on Lifetime, has her line of clothing featured on the site and thinks it’s a great place to promote her line. She said she enjoys the fact that the shopper can make a purchase without having to navigate away from the page, an action she thinks often results in the loss of potential buyers.
“I also love how easy the store is to use and extremely easy to set up. I am no techie and I was able to set it all up in an evening,” said Harper.
Harper said she has noticed about a 20 percent increase in sales since the Shopping Mall launched.
Taylor says the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far and simply demonstrates the power of social media and its viability to be the next great shopping portal.
“We really want the Shopping Mall to be a place where people go to discover new brands that aren’t easily accessible otherwise, and then they share the products with their friends, which is where online shopping truly gets social,” said Taylor.
Ecommerce had its best year to date in 2010, with an estimated $43.4 billion spent online, setting the stage for the social shopping experience to take off.