Payvment: Mall of the future?

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Online shopping is mostly a lone activity — a person sits in front of a computer or holds a mobile phone, clicks on a few items to drop into a shopping cart, then checks out. Not once does the customer come in contact with a live person.

But one company, Payvment.com, aims to make this process a little less solitary. Payvment is a Facebook-based e-commerce service provider. It recently launched a “Shopping Mall” through the social networking site that houses roughly 60,000 e-stores. These stores range in size from individuals selling hobby wares to large brands like Hooked on Phonics. (West Coast Choppers is a Payvment client, as well.) One can browse all of these stores and products without leaving the Shopping Mall.

To give you an idea of how fast Payvment is growing, about 400 e-commerce stores open per day — making it the No. 1 e-commerce service provider on Facebook.

“Before [us], people would have to shop directly on a retailer’s Facebook page,” says Payvment CEO Christian Taylor. “But we saw problems with this early on. If you were new, or not a household name or brand, how were your products going to get discovered? Just because you add e-commerce to your Facebook page doesn’t mean customers will come.”

Putting all of these merchants under one virtual “roof” makes it easier for would-be shoppers to find you. For instance, if a shopper types in “socks” into the search tool, every single merchant on Payvment that is selling socks will come up. Users also can search for specific stores.

HOW IT WORKS
Payvment is 100 percent free for merchants, Taylor says. “We want to help merchants get discovered, so we’d like it always to be free,” he continues. When you sign up, Payvment installs a Facebook app onto your page that allows you to build your store, add your products and launch.”

The whole process can take as little as 15 minutes, and your store and products are automatically entered into the Shopping Mall. Payvment doesn’t take a percentage of your sales, either. Instead, Taylor says, he’d rather they make money the way Facebook makes money.

“Facebook doesn’t charge you to do business,” he says. “They make their revenue on Facebook ads, and tools to help you get started.”

The “social” part comes into play with the various features that you and your customers can take advantage of. Users can go into a store and see if any of their friends have visited previously. They also can see if their friends have hit the Facebook “like” button for any of your products. When a user “likes” a product, the newsfeed on their personal Facebook page displays it — essentially promoting your store and product to their friends.

“If you have a cool deal on a helmet, [users] can repost it on their Facebook pages and share it with their own friends,” Taylor says. “It’s not only a way to generate sales, but it’s a way to build your Facebook fans.” Some stores offer specific discounts to users who’ve “liked” their page or product. “People shopping is only half of the experience. People talking about and sharing products on their newsfeeds, that’s what’s really exciting.”

Payvment also has its own shopping-cart technology that allows users to purchase items without leaving Facebook — a plus, since research has shown that most Facebook users don’t like to leave Facebook when they’re already in it.

“We’ve made it so people can make impulse buys without being redirected off of Facebook,” Taylor says. “We feel if you can take three steps in what used to take five steps to close a sale, that’s a home run.” Users can choose to use their Paypal accounts or their credit cards to shop. Payvment and Facebook never touch the funds, as they directly move from buyer to seller.

There’s also chance of being highlighted on the Shopping Mall’s main page. Hourly, Payvment highlights the stores that get the most “likes.” “If a lot of people start clicking on your product, you can trend really high in the mall. So more people will notice you,” Taylor says. ‘That’s where we say it’s really the social aspect that helps you get discovered.”

The social aspect is the main draw, Taylor says. Many of Payvment’s clients have started a Facebook store without even having a website. Essentially, you can launch a full e-business through Payvment, without it costing you a cent.

“Payvment isn’t Amazon.com shoehorned into a Facebook page,” Taylor says. “It’s got all the social features that brands love. People are sharing and talking about products.”

Visit www.payvment.com, or www.FacebookMall.com for more information.

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