Payvment now aggregates items from the 1.2 million products in the 50,000 ecommerce storefront Facebook Page tab apps it powers to create a new product called Shopping Mall. The Facebook app lets users search, browse, Like, and buy products and will help small merchants with few fans gain customers for free.
By addressing the ecommerce store discovery problem on Facebook, Payvment will lure more merchants to its service and create a viable competitor to Amazon, Etsy, and other online marketplaces.
Payvment’s core function is allowing merchants to set up an ecommerce store as a tab on their Facebook Page, allowing users to buy their products without leaving the site. The company secured $6 million in funding in December to hire more engineers and support staff.
However, Payvment still hasn’t clearly defined a business model, insisting it will remain free for merchants and won’t markup prices for users. Instead, it plans to eventually charge merchants for increased visibility.
When users visit Shopping Mall, the first products they’ll see are those that their friends Like. They’ll also see browsing panes for celebrity sellers, bestsellers, and recently viewed products. A “Recommended for You” pane shows relevant products based on the Likes from a user’s profiles, such as their favorite movies or music.
In the left sidebar, users can drill down through categories and sub-categories to browse specific types of products. Categories can be sorted by price, bestseller, and other filters. Each product page features Like and Share buttons, reviews, a unique URL, suggestions of similar products, and a link back to the seller’s Facebook Page so merchants can gain more fans and show off their entire product line.
Shopping Mall’s home page, and each category and sub-category also display a top 10 list of most Liked products. This will inspire merchants to offer discounts and organize marketing campaigns in order to secure enough Likes to reach the leaderboard for their category, or across all categories, netting them exposure to a wide audience.
The lists only count Likes from the past 30 days, so new merchants will have a chance to break into the top 10 lists, similar to Apple’s App Store charts. As lists are based on Likes instead of sales, merchants will be pushing their fans to create fruitful links from their profile walls to their products within Shopping Mall, also virally spreading Payvment’s app. Users can click on the “Friends Like” link at the top of the app to see lists of all the products each of their friends have Liked, which can make birthday and holiday shopping easy.
There are a few shortcomings that Payvment will look to improve on in future updates. Right now, Shopping Mall is only available for Payvment’s US merchants, but it will soon integrate European stores as well. Users can currently only search for products, not merchants. Payvment doesn’t directly sell digital downloads, so artists and developers looking to sell media or games need to use Payvment’s API and deliver users an off-site download code via email.
Otherwise, Shopping Mall works smoothly and delivers a full-featured, social shopping experience to a platform hosting hundreds of millions of potential customers. Now merchants with zero fans can immediately start making sales. Taylor asks “why would you launch a dot.com store? It costs so much to acquire customers. On Facebook, the audience is built in.”