Facebook Pages aren’t just for communicating. Thanks to tab applications, they can serve as ecommerce storefronts as well. Russian ecommerce widget startup Ecwid allows businesses to set up a single store that can be embedded on Facebook Pages, blogs, websites, and mobile sites. All Pages should consider monetizing their fan base through an ecommerce app like Ecwid, even if that means just slapping their logo on a t-shirt produced through a print-on-demand service like CafePress or Zazzle.
Ruslan Fazlyev started Ecwid in September 2009 as a nimble, social-minded offshoot of his ten year old ecommerce software company X-Cart. The self-funded, twelve-person startup now has 38,000 stores set up on its platform. Though only 25% of those have a Facebook version, the company reports that it is the second largest Facebook ecommerce provider next to frontrunner Payvment, which operates a network of interconnected stores. Fazylev says businesses should choose Ecwid because most merchants don’t want their customers to be able to easily click to a competitor’s store — something Payvment facilitates.
Ecwid uses a freemium model where businesses can sell physical or digital goods with no fee, or opt to pay $17 a month for a white-labeled widget or app with API access and the option to distribute discount coupons. $950 gets businesses setup support and custom features.
To set up a store, businesses visit the Ecwid Control Panel where admins can register an account with their Facebook, Google, or email account. They can add products to their catalog, view a summary of orders, and get the embed code for their widget. The Sales tab offers detailed data on payments and shipping, and the Customers tab offers basic CRM functionality.
To add the store to a Page, admins can visit the Ecwid Facebook app and input the unique store code from the Ecwid Control Panel. This create a “Products” FBML tab on the selected Page that includes images and prices of four products from their store. Clicking any of the products or the “Open Our Store” button brings users away from the Page to a full-width iframe Facebook app. The AJAX interface allows users to drag desired products into their shopping cart, see product details, or share products to their feed.
Upon checkout, users can select to use PayPal, Google Checkout, Authorize.Net, or any of the nine other payments methods the merchant has activated. Users are directed off-site to enter payment details, which could be viewed as more secure or as adding friction to the process.
Businesses who want to sell across the web but only manage a single catalog can benefit from Ecwid. The user interfaces seem a bit hacked together and could use some polish, but all the necessary components are there. Though Payvment may become the premier Facebook ecommerce tab app, there is plenty of room in the market for an embeddable storefront that also functions on Facebook.