Using Facebook to Launch Your Own Online Retail Store

Q: I have some items that I'd like to sell through the Internet. Is there a quick and easy way to do that?


A: Payvment, a free Facebook application that allows you to set-up and operate your own online retail store using the social network, announced earlier this week that it had raised $6 million in a new round of funding led by Sierra Ventures. With $2 million already raised, the start-up now has $8 million to play with. The company will use that money to hire new engineers to make its product even more successful. It looks like Payvment, committed to growing and improving its service, will be around for a while; if you're looking to get into this business, this is one option you will want to consider.

Ready? It's simple: Install the application and then walk through the instructions provided. You can list individual products that you want to sell -- including images -- or, if you're planning on listing many different items, you can organize the products into categories. Once you've done that, write out terms of service and shipping options for your customers. When completed, the storefront will appear as a new tab on your Facebook page where anyone will be able to access it.

As the service continues to grow, its engineers are busy developing new functions. Recently, Payvment rolled out an option that allows retailers to offer discounts or coupons to individuals that sign up as Fans of a page or "Like" it on Facebook.

Since launching in November of last year, Payvment has amassed more than 40,000 global retailers that are currently selling about 750,000 products through the service. It can't yet compete with major online retailer eBay or Etsy, but you're probably already on Facebook anyway. If you're just looking to sell a handful of items or don't want to go through the hassle of joining another site, you won't be alone with Payvment.

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