Dublin-based app helps businesses sell via Facebook

6 Dec 2010

VendorShop is a new free application that is enabling businesses to sell directly to fans and customers through their Facebook pages.

Chris Small is the brain behind the app, which he started developing in 2009 with a small team of developers. Since going live in March of this year with its beta version, VendorShop has already signed up 10,000 businesses worldwide.

Of the companies that are using VendorShop to sell their products, there’s a broad mix, ranging from a women’s boutique based in Cabinteely, while the UK comedian Jack Whitehall uses it to sell tickets for his gigs and the US band Joe Bonamassa sells merchandise and CDs via the app.

“We’re also about to launch a store for a charity in Dublin, which will be selling a Christmas catalogue through Facebook,” explains Small.

Capitalising on Facebook

He uses the term “from conversation to conversion” to describe how businesses can find a new revenue stream by selling their products via their Facebook pages.

It seems the market is certainly there – he estimates that there are between 5 million and 10 million business pages on Facebook, with circa less than 5pc actually having stores.

From a consumer perspective, Small says about 60pc of people join a business page on Facebook because they want to find out about a product, discounts and promotions.

“It’s a logical step to not only tell them about promotions you are running but actually allow them to buy the product on promotion without leaving your Facebook page.”

The VendorShop service is very simple to use, according to Small.

“You go onto our Facebook page and with the click of a button you can download the application. That installs onto your Facebook page. You upload your products and you are ready to sell. Within minutes you could be selling your products on Facebook.”

Businesses can upload an unlimited number of products.

“You can upload descriptions, prices and categories in the same way that you would if you were running a standard online e-commerce store.”

VendorShop uses PayPal to process payments securely, but Small plans to open the platform up to other payment methods in the coming year.

Viral marketing

While he hasn’t done any marketing activity to date, Small says VendorShop’s profile has grown through word of mouth, as well as the viral nature of Facebook.

“Our aim is to deliver a simple tool that helps businesses of all sizes to deliver measurable sales from their facebook presence. We plan to add additional features that will ensure our users continue to have a really effective sales tool.

“Ultimately, what is important about making shopping on Facebook a successfor a business is about keeping it very simple and not being afraid to sell to your customers. Our best stores deliver consistent sales by actively using the (Facebook) wall as the window to their shop,” affirms Small.

He says the focus will be on driving store growth and really making this something that everyone can use.

“We’d also like to work with some larger businesses to develop ‘bespoke’ solutions. We see that as a cost-effective way for businesses to have a customised solution on a robust platform,” he adds.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic