A software company has introduced a mini-store widget, or plug-in application, as a means of increasing what it calls "social selling" among e-merchants.
Social commerce is a fairly new trend and could prove quite profitable for sellers who frequent social-networking sites, according to ToldYa, the business behind the new mini stores. Since social commerce depends heavily on personal relationships among sellers and buyers, as well as recommendations, putting the mini stores on these sites seemed like a logical move, ToldYa notes.
Merchants who partake in social commerce can expect greater customer loyalty, the company asserts.
"When the buyer or seller is a friend, or a friend of a friend, there is an added level of trust and credibility," says Michael Birnholz, founder and CEO of ToldYa.
People are spending more time on social-networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Friendster. In fact, 33 percent of people have increased the amount of time they spend on these sites, reports WebPro News.
To take advantage, sellers can create free, portable 3-by-4-inch ToldYa eStores with photos and videos of their products, then post them on their online profiles.
"Your social profile encapsulates your world and, in many ways, defines who you are," Birnholz says. "One thing it hasn't been able to do is allow you to easily buy or sell things to and from friends. Let's face it, everyone has something to sell or knows someone who is selling something, and with 'social selling,' anyone can do it quickly and easily."
But social-networking sites aren't the only places sellers can use the mini stores. Several large businesses successfully used ToldYa before the mini stores were launched. One of those businesses was Spin Magazine.
"In just a few months it has generated thousands of dollars in new subscriptions to our print and online magazine as well as sales of our merchandise," notes Tom Hartle, Spin Magazine's president.
eBay sellers can also create the portable stores and post them in their eBay Stores. Although eBay isn't the intended audience for the ToldYa eStores, sellers could use them, for example, to avoid dealing with PayPal, Birnholz notes.
Buyers can simply purchase items from the mini stores and ToldYa will process the credit card payments. The company also helps automate shipping by charging users a flat 99-cent transaction fee.
And buyers who buy from the mini stores won't have to leave the sites they were on to make a purchase, ToldYa notes.
"We've spent the last year perfecting our portable and embedded e-commerce widget technology for major online merchants," Birnholz says. "Now we're giving those same capabilities to consumers and small businesses to make it easy to buy and sell on the sites where they're spending most of their time online."
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.