Apps to Help You Start Selling on Facebook -- Now
First there was ecommerce, then mcommerce and now it's all about fcommerce: otherwise known as selling on Facebook. Recently, the social network revealed a plan to allow consumers to buy items using their Facebook login, but that product is still a ways from being an option to the average online retailer.
Until Facebook comes up with a global solution, here are four apps you can use to set up an f-shop right now.
If you already have an online store with services like Magento, Amazon Webstore, Shopify or PrestaShop, you can create a Facebook shop using the Beetailer app. It automatically pulls product information from your current catalog so there's no need to list items. Just choose the products you want to feature and Beetailer creates a customizable shop tab on your page.
When customers buy, they're directed back to your store so you can keep track of all of your customer data in one place. Beetailer offers a variety of promotional tools along with trackable social sharing options so you can make the most of the social network environment.
Beetailer is free for up to 50 products. The $50 a month Pro account handles up to 500 products and includes email support and unlimited promotions. There's also a $100 and $300 plan for more inventory and more functionality.
Related: Giving Ecommerce a Social Twist
If you don't have an online store yet, Bigcommerce is an all-in-one solution. Starting at $24.95 a month, you can build a 100-item store on the web and then connect that store to your Facebook Page using the SocialShop app.
Like Beetailer, the app pulls all of the product information from your online store catalog. But with Bigcommerce, the customer who shops on Facebook stays on Facebook. The customer can complete his or her entire transaction from browsing to check-out without leaving the page.
There are no transaction fees or bandwidth limitations. The monthly flat fee only increases when you add products to the store. You can pay $39.95 for 500 products up to $299.95 a month for unlimited products and storage.
Shoptab is a Facebook app that runs as a tab on your Facebook Page. You can connect it to a current online store, but it also works as a stand-alone store if you prefer to sell only on Facebook. Initial set-up is fast and easy then you just have to load your products using an admin tool. If you don't have an ecommerce provider, you run all of your Shoptab sales through Paypal.
If you sell internationally, Shoptab supports 50 currencies and almost any language. Since Facebook is all they do, Shoptab has a long list of social features including easy Pinterest and Twitter posting, the ability to share products on your wall and an "ask friends advice" feature to promote viral sharing.
Plans begin at $10 a month for up to 500 products. The Ultimate $20 a month plan includes up to 5,000 items and a "Fan Gate" which requires a "Like" before shopping.
Shoptab also offers a partner app called SharedDeal for flash sales and daily deal shops. Product pages include a countdown clock for urgency and can be set to "fans only" for exclusivity for $14.95 a month.
Instead of adding a store tab, Soldsie sells your products through Facebook posts. Upload a photo, the price and description into the Soldsie dashboard then schedule your "event." At the specified time, the item will appear on your Facebook page like any other scheduled post. To buy the item, customers use Facebook Connect to sign-in to the app then type "sold" into the comment box. Then Soldsie sends them a Paypal invoice and when the invoice is paid, you ship the product and it's done.
The downside to Soldsie is that the unusual format can be confusing to customers. People are used to online shopping carts and check-out procedures so they may feel uncomfortable simply typing "sold" as a means of placing an order.
On the upside, Soldsie lets you have your first $700 dollars in sales for free. After that, they take a 3 percent commission on every sale. There's no monthly fee and no cost to get started so it's perfect for either the beginning seller or artisans who sell one-off items.
Cynthia Boris is a freelance writer based in Orange County, Calif. Covering all things tech and TV, her work has appeared on websites such as Tecca, MarketingPilgrim, SheKnows and io9.