Interspire has been providing a variety of online e-commerce and marketing software services since 2003, and for the past year, its e-commerce software subsidiary, BigCommerce, has been moving into Facebook. But instead of providing a stand-alone application for Page owners to market their wares through, it has integrated its app, called Social Shop, in with the rest of the product offering, thereby helping its customers integrate Facebook with the rest of their online sales efforts.
After paying a $24 to $299 monthly fee (depending on the number of items that may be listed), BigCommerce clients also gain access to a web site, eBay and email marketing apps, as well as a YouTube integration for the web sites. BigCommerce is also fully compatible with most mobile devices and iPads, allowing mobile users to write reviews, purchase, and browse.
It currently has about 7,000 clients and is adding more than 1,000 new clients each month, co-founder and co-CEO Mitchell Harper says. Most of the company’s business is coming from the U.S. and Canada and these small businesses are focused on apparel, health (such as vitamins and supplements) and computer hardware. Its clients average between $300,000 to $2 million in annual revenue overall. Around 250,000 small businesses start up each month in the U.S., so he thinks there will always be a supply of potential customers.
The Facebook integration is getting solid use from its customer base — 93% of them use SocialShop, with about 40% characterizing Facebook business as somewhat important to the bottom line.
The company is currently basing its North American sales, support and marketing operations in Austin, Texas, although its engineering offices are in Sydney, Australia. Harper says that BigCommerce’s Facebook integration is just in phase one, allowing Page admins to display products on Facebook and share them. Phase two will allow users to add Likes on their web sites and phase three incorporates Facebook Connect for reviews and posting purchases.
Now, here’s a quick look at using the product. Setting up your own BigCommerce Social Shop is a fairly easy and quick process.
First you have to create a Facebook Page. Then to set up your online store, open a BigCommerce account, select your store name, upload a logo, pick a store template, choose from among 50 payment options (including PayPal) and upload your merchandise. There are also options for shipping, taxes, multiple admins with different privileges and the like.
Once that’s done, you add the BigCommerce Facebook app to your Page. By pasting the link to your BigCommerce store into the Facebook Social Shop’s admin interface and uploading your selected items, you’ll be directing your customers back to your BigCommerce-powered site. Your store will be located on a “Shop” tab. Users of these Facebook and online shops can either login with an account or as a guest and can save items in their shopping carts for up to seven days.
Harper tells us that BigCommerce doesn’t take payments directly on the Facebook platform because consumers still don’t feel comfortable forking over credit card information there. Small business owners still make most of their money from their web sites, he says, so they want to use Social Shop to drive traffic there. However, Harper believes that Facebook Credits hold a lot of potential to transform e-commerce on the platform, as well as the rest of the web.
“I see Credits as a direct competitor to PayPal. They’re using Zynga as kind of a testing ground; if you can get gamers comfortable with Credits, you can move it to sites like Amazon,” he says. “I think Facebook Credits will be the main player in the e-commerce space.”