Who says businesses can't make money off Facebook?
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Soldsie, a San Francisco startup, officially launched Wednesday night with the promise of helping small businesses sell their products to fans directly through Facebook comments. Retailers post a picture of a product for sale, and fans are asked to type "sold" in the comments if they want to buy it. The vendor can then reach out to these fans to confirm their intent to buy and send along an invoice for payment.
Rather than direct Facebook fans to shop on a separate website, Soldsie allows vendors to turn Facebook into the point-of-sale, using Soldsie as an intermediary. Consumers create an account with Soldsie that includes their e-mail and credit card information, and brands register with the startup to get in touch with the customer and process the transactions.
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"People are spending time on these social networks, they are not going to dot coms. They want to transact there," said Chris Bennett, Soldsie's co-founder. "All of the vendors we work with don't have websites."
Bennett says this from experience. He and his co-founder Arrel Gray originally worked together on a startup called Central.ly, which was essentially an About.me tool to help small businesses build a website that incorporated their social networking information, but the team soon noticed that vendors were less interested in building a website than building up their Facebook presence. So the two founders decided to pivot to developing Soldsie instead.
Soldsie had a soft launch back in May and has since processed more than $1 million in transactions, according to the company's founders. The startup takes a 3% cut of every transaction.
So far, Soldsie has mainly been used by smaller vendors (some as small as one-person teams) who typically sell products like children's clothes, women's clothes and jewelry. However, earlier this month, Soldsie partnered with a slightly larger group -- the San Jose Earthquakes, a Major League Soccer team. The Earthquakes advertised a one-day sale on garden gnomes on their Facebook page. The team limited the available supply to just 10 garden gnomes. After 24 hours, 80 people expressed an interest in buying the gnomes.
Bennett says that Soldsie typically recommends businesses start out with a flash sale model like this one on Facebook to boost interest among fans and then transition to a more traditional e-commerce model over time.
Going forward, Bennett said the goal is for Soldsie to be used as a tool for businesses of all sizes. The team also plans to roll out an update to the service in the future that will let customers type "sold" and immediately have their credit card billed, rather than having to wait for the businesses to get in touch to process the payment. As for the possibility of expanding to social networks other than Facebook, Bennett says only, "We definitely have thought about it."
Image courtesy of Soldsie
This story originally published on Mashable here.