Can ToldYa eStores bring e-commerce to Facebook?

A new online storefront for social networking sites from []( debuts today and claims to outshine other widgets designed to cash in on the social media craze by keeping the transactions at the original site and by not requiring merchant accounts.

The ToldYa eStore is a three-by-four-inch mini store that can be embedded and posted at social networking sites, blogs or Web sites and can be customized with images, text or video. Shoppers can browse, checkout, select shipping methods and pay for their items within the eStore app, without leaving the page for a third-party service such as PayPal, according to the company, which gets a 99-cent transaction fee for sold items.

Unlike eBay, which now prohibits money orders, ToldYa eStores can accept cash or credit, and the company provides tools for order tracking and processing in the seller’s ToldYa account.

The news comes at a time when many online store owners and retailers are trying to capitalize on the millions of members — Facebook has some 200 million active users — frequenting social networking sites.

Anyone can brand their business, for instance, by creating a fan or business page at Facebook. And, some big retailers, for example Sears, have Facebook pages, but primarily businesses use Facebook for promotional purposes and link back to their online store for actual transactions. Plus, widgets and other mini apps exist that link to online stores, but to date, e-commerce has yet to take off at social networking sites.

Aside from payment logistics and despite the fact that people are more inclined to buy something from a friend or even a friend-of-a-friend, it appears most social networking site members see them as social hubs, and quite simply, are more interested in socializing than in buying things.

ToldYa seems to think that will change if the logistics are streamlined, saying that the lack of commerce exists because other apps require casual sellers to have a merchant account or because too many steps are involved in the buying transaction.

“The leading consumer e-commerce marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Craigslist have yet to truly adapt their offerings for Web 2.0. These sites don’t allow users to easily share listings on social media sites, other than posting affiliate links that market products from other sellers.

“Additionally, any purchase made must be checked out at the e-commerce marketplace — so even if you could figure out how to post a link on your Facebook profile to a bicycle you’re selling on eBay, your friends will have to leave Facebook and checkout at eBay. With a ToldYa estore you never leave the page you are viewing while you are shopping,” Michael Birnholz, chief executive officer and founder of ToldYa, said in a statement.

It remains to be seen if e-commerce will truly happen at Facebook and other social media sites — and if ToldYa is the company that will be one of the first to do so. If it does, you can bet the folks there will say, “Told ya so.”

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