Payvment Builds E-Commerce Into Facebook, Launches Enterprise API

Facebook e-commerce company Payvment offers an application that can be integrated into Facebook Pages, helping any size business sell more real goods. And today it is launching an API that lets vendors synchronize their inventory and distribution systems with the app.

We spoke to company chief executive Christian Taylor about the news and reviewed the Payvment app as part of a new occasional series examining e-commerce on Facebook.

E-commerce has existed on the web for more than a decade, so beyond giving merchandise some face-time in Pages, a key part of what Payvment does is get people sharing about shopping in their news feeds. When users share, suggest, comment on or review any item in a Payvment store, that activity shows up in their friends’ feeds.

Conceived from the get-go to offer e-commerce specifically to Facebook users without forcing them to leave the site, Payvment also allows users to keep one shopping cart between sessions and across every single Payvment store.

Using Payvment’s stores as a Facebook shopping tool is easy.

You simply browse the stores by visiting Payvment’s Facebook Page or using the Search function on any Payvment store front. These stores are located on a Shop Now tab and allow you to search for whatever item suits you. You can also check out an item that one of your friends has shared in the stream. You click on the item, add it to your shopping cart and then proceed to enter your name, shipping information, preferred shipping method, PayPal account information and voilà.

To set up a Payvment store as an admin, the process is slightly more involved.

First you must set up an account with Payvment on its web site, which requires you to provide some back information and a PayPal account. Then you install the app on Facebook, including a code sent to you by Payvment’s web site: you enter your store name, currency type (from among 20 global options) and make your store public (or not) and you’re done. Taylor tells us that implementing Credits may be in the company’s future, especially given a new focus on digital goods such as movie and music downloads, but PayPal is currently the app’s currency handler.

As a Page admin, the Payvment app will allow you to create a store on a Shop Now tab on your Facebook Page. On this Page the Pavyment app will set up a store front complete with photos and prices of merchandise, which users may then click on for more information, share to their stream or purchase.

Importing your products is more often the cumbersome part of the process, precisely the step that Payvment’s new API is meant to address. By attaching your Payvment app to a Facebook Page you are able to control what merchandise you sell on Facebook, at what price, with that promotion or discount. You have the option to change shipping settings (domestic or international), set a return policy and change the setting for weight and tax rates. The app also provides notification options so you know when you have activity. There’s also a Support tab on Facebook for any technical issues.

Currently Pavyment is free, the company does not take a cut of vendor sales and Taylor tells us that its users will be grandfathered-in if the company does decide to start charging in the future. Millions of Facebook shoppers drop money at the 40,000 Payvment Facebook store fronts and 200 new retailers launch daily, Taylor tell us, although he doesn’t provide more specific numbers. Search has been Payvment’s main focus as of late but discoverability is next on the list, Taylor adds, noting that the app is available in languages ranging from Hebrew to French to German. Mobile, other social networks and shopping cart systems may also be in Payvment’s future as Facebook.