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Facebook’s free shopping cart, are we ready?

Payvment shopping cart logo with Lauren Armstrong

Inside Facebook just posted about the Facebook shopping cart application Payvment. The post was meant to discuss the new system that allows the Payvment application to sync with your current distribution and inventory management system.  However, the post did not discuss this. It was mentioned as a blurb at the top and then followed with paragraphs touting the benefits of Payvment. If you know what it is then you know the benefits. If you don’t know, then you probably want to hear about it. But why did they skim over the key development – which is the reason they are getting any new press at all? I don’t know.

So here’s the DL (down-low) on Payvment:

I am torn on the shopping cart app.  There are some great things about it that make it really appealing from a business point of view. There are also some things that make it not so great.

Great

1. It’s FREE!
2. Allows you to sell on your Facebook PageThe Candy Lady is a good example of this.
3. Can be your landing page
4. Offers instant discounts to people who Like your page. Great incentive for fans.
5. Sync on your inventory and distribution system- more on this in a minute.
6. Users can “share” their purchases on Facebook
7. Automatic shipping calculations from FedEx and UPS
8. Uses Paypal without leaving Facebook
9. Sells in over 20 currencies

Not so great

1. No design control. It reminds me of shopping carts back in 1995. Picture, description, price. Done.
2. You have to manually enter all your products and this can be time consuming depending on how much inventory you have.
3. The only time you see the store on your page is on the landing; once someone has Liked you they no longer see it.
4. People are not yet familiar with shopping on Facebook and are reluctant to do it.
5. Does not accept Facebook Credits
6. Not aesthetically pleasing
7. Only uses Paypal for payments

Sync Inventory and Distribution

Just so you know, I have not yet used the new syncing features. So this is my interpretation from Payvment’s documentation on their website.

One way to sync your inventory with the app is through an XML file. This is only recommended for stores with an excess of 50,000 products.  The file needs to be set up according to the protocol laid out in the Product Import API document. This is not for the casual user. Be prepared to have a developer at your right hand doing everything for you.

The other way is through IPN (Instant Payment Notification).  I received a tweet from Christian Taylor regarding the IPN.  Payvment has their own IPN, they do not use Paypal’s. Chris says that their IPN is MUCH easier.

It seems that the way you have your  your IPN account set up determines how much is automated and how much is manual in the “back office administration” process.  In theory, if everything is set up properly then you will automatically update your accounting software and therefore your inventory as well. It all sounds so easy. But be prepared to have that developer on hand. You might just want to put him on retainer while you are getting this set up, because I have a sinking feeling that this is not a 1,2,3 process.

What makes this great for small business is the fact that it is free and did not take a lot of investment to get it up an running. The new functionality makes managing an online store much easier, however the level of complication and apparent need for a developer makes me wonder if small business will consider the trouble to be worthwhile?

Shopping on Facebook

People are not used to shopping on Facebook.  They take recommendations from friends regarding products and businesses, which have been proven to have significant influence on purchasing decisions.   Granted, shopping on Facebook is still fairly new. The first retail sale was a little over a year ago by 1-800-Flowers.com. This marked a new era of social media usage.

The Payvment application is considered a disruptive technology because it changes the way we interact with the parent technology, ie. Facebook.  According to the Technology Lifecycle we are at the Early Adopters stage of this cycle. But I believe we are staring down “The Chasm“. This is the critical stage where a new technology will either succeed or fail, and is the most challenging part of the lifecycle. Early Adopters tend to be leaders, educated and more risk oriented. The Early Majority are the influencers. They are a little more conservative and let the Early Adopters vet the technology before ushering it into the public, where it becomes a fully accepted technology.

Technology life cycle

"Crossing the Chasm"

Payvment is staring deep into the chasm and the question becomes, can the Early Adopters build a bridge to the Early Majority?  Are the citizens of Facebook ready to integrate commerce into their social media?

So is their new functionality great?  Yes and no.  Is the Payvment shopping cart app great? Yes and no.  Is the Facebook community ready? Good question.