|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2135 - October 12, 2009 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 4|
Ecommerce is all about putting your products before as many potential customers as possible. Traditionally, that's done by attracting shoppers to whatever sales venue you have, whether that's a website or eBay Store. But as many entrepreneurs are finding, a more effective approach is to go where your customers hang out online, and connect with them there.
When it comes to websites, you can't get much more popular than Facebook. According to its current statistics, this site attracts a set of consumers any businessperson would die for: 300 million registered users, more than 50 percent of whom log in every day; users in 70 countries; the fastest growing user group is over age 35; and on and on.
I love Facebook as a place to keep up with family and friends. But I never thought of it as a place to do ecommerce until I interviewed John Jacobs, the CEO of Artfire, a marketplace for those who make and/or sell handicrafts.
Jacobs' team of programmers have developed the Facebook Kiosk, a utility that Artfire members can use if they subscribe as Verified Members for a $12 monthly fee. Once a member subscribes and creates his or her storefront on Artfire, they can add the kiosk to their existing presence on Facebook.
As you probably know if you have used Facebook, you can create several types of pages on the site. Besides your personal page, which you use to track the "feeds" of your friends and post your own feed, you can create a Fan Page. A fan page can be used to promote anything - a cause, an organization, or a business.
The Kiosk application grabs an Artfire member's store logo and a selection of items that are currently for sale, and groups them all in an easy-to-browse grid on the seller's Fan page. You see Kharisma Ryantori's Popnicute kiosk below.
Not only that, but when shoppers click on an item, a purchase page appears so they can complete the transaction without ever having to leave Facebook. An example is shown below.
One limitation: shoppers have to know the Kiosk is available before they can even see it. In some cases, you have to be a "fan" of the artist in order to make a purchase. But the Kiosk is only intended to supplement offerings for sale on other sites. And people who are already familiar with your work will be most likely to make a purchase. If you do a search, you might come up with a seller's kiosk. But as Tony Ford, Chief Operating Officer of Artfire, points out, Google can play a big role in promoting your kiosk: once you gain 25 fans for your page, and once you assign a custom URL to it, Google will index the page so it can be found by its popular search engine.
"Marketplaces have to evolve away from the old way of doing business," says John Jacobs, CEO of Artfire. "We don't believe you should have to "trap" customers or buyers into seeing your site. If you add value to your existing content, your customers will stay. And instead of having to drag customers to find you, you can find them on Facebook."
Jacobs reports that a few Artfire sellers made sales shortly after their kiosks went online. So does Kharisma Ryantori, who runs two Artfire stores called Popnicute, where she sells handcrafted imaginative jewelry, and PopnicuteSupplies, which offers quality jewelry supplies and "digital paintings" on commission.
Ryantori hasn't had any sales from her kiosk yet, but she has seen other benefits. "I get a wider audience without having to "spam" my friends to come see my stores," she says. "I've made use of my fiance's Facebook to host one of my Kiosks and I'm planning to ask my sister and cousins to see if they would host my Kiosks in their facebook as well. Talk about having multiple outlets without investing any more money than the monthly fee! I'm very happy with this application!"
You can visit Ryantori's Kiosk at on her fan page. You don't need to be a member of Artfire to make a purchase - though you do need to sign up for Facebook. But you've done that already. Haven't you?
About the author:
Artfire Marketplace to Add Checkout by Amazon, Announces New Partnership - June 10, 2010
TurnTo Helps Friends Share Online-Shopping Advice - April 18, 2010
ArtFire Artisan Marketplace Surpasses One Million Unique Listings - January 19, 2010
ArtFire.com Online Marketplace Partners with Jo-Ann Stores - December 04, 2009
ArtFire.com Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary with Special Pricing - November 10, 2009
About the author:
Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.
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