Sunday, December 30, 2007

PayPal Storefront

by Laurence Trifon

What do they say it is?
PayPal Storefront is an online store widget that anyone can use to sell products from their website or blog. Simply go to the Storefront website, customize the design of your storefront, and upload your product information and store policies (shipping information, contacts, etc.). When you’re done, PayPal provides you a bit of HTML code that you can use to publish your storefront.

All you need to start using Storefront is a PayPal account. The Storefront widget doesn’t cost anything to use, aside from the standard PayPal transaction fees for sellers.

What do we say it is?

A convenient way to sell products if you don’t mind handling inventory and shipping yourself.

What’s great about it?

PayPal makes it very easy to customize the appearance of and information on your Storefront. Among other things, you can upload a store logo as well as individual images for each product, set the price and write a description for each product, and provide detailed information about your store policies regarding shipping, tracking, insurance, etc.

Each Storefront includes a “Help sell these products” link that lets other people put your store on their own website. You still get all the proceeds from sales - there’s no affiliate fee for those who choose to help sell your products.

What could be better?
At the moment it seems that Storefront (which is currently in beta) only accept payments in U.S. Dollars. The PayPal Labs site indicates that Storefront will be available for MySpace in the future, which will be a nice addition. Hopefully Storefront widgets for other social networks are on their way as well.

How can I use this?
Storefront provides a great opportunity to sell merchandise directly to your fans. Simply embed the widget on your website — and get your fans to put it on their websites too! — and let the orders roll in. Bear in mind, however, that Storefront is simply a tool for displaying your products and processing payments. You are responsible for actually fulfilling the orders. If you have no desire to manage inventory or you detest trips to the post office, Storefront isn’t for you.

Should I pay it any attention?

Many independent artists will find it more efficient to sell products through sites like Amazon and Zazzle, where order fulfillment and inventory management are provided. But when you’re ready to cut out the middle-man, give Storefront a try. It’s a fantastic widget.

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