Guest Post: A review of the PayPal Storefront Widget

December 12, 2007

In our post announcing the launch of the PayPal Storefront Widget, we linked to an in-depth review of the tool by John Unger on his TypePad Hacks blog. John's a long-time TypePad blogger who's written extensively about eCommerce in TypePad, and uses his TypePad blog as a storefront for his TypePad consulting work, handmade firebowls and other artwork. We asked John to share his thoughts about how the widget can be used as part of a blog-based eCommerce solution.

The Paypal Storefront Widget is an amazing tool for bloggers who want to sell goods or services without diving deep into coding a custom solution. You can add a storefront with a single click by visiting TypePad's Widget Gallery. Or, you can embed as many stores as you like, anywhere you want by cutting and pasting a snip of code provided by PayPal at the end of the set-up process. If you're looking for an easy way to monetize your blog or to sell goods and services online, this is one of the best options I've seen yet. The widget works equally well for blogs using basic or advanced templates.

Don't let the ease of use and simple set-up process fool you… although the Paypal Storefront Widget was designed as a tool for "casual sellers," the widget contains almost all the features you would expect from a full eCommerce tool. Because you can have as many different storefronts as you want, there's no limit to how you can use this widget to grow your business. You could use it to offer special deals from within any post. Or to create a "catablog" with your full range of products. You could use it to feature product spotlights. The possibilities are limited only by imagination.

The PayPal Storefront Widget is free, and fees for transactions are the same as those for the standard PayPal shopping cart buttons. This makes it an ideal solution for testing new products and ideas. You only pay if you've made sales and the costs are much lower than most eCommerce products currently available.

Who is the Paypal Storefront Widget for?

  • People who want to focus on blogging about their area of expertise and drive business, rather than spending all their time configuring and coding their blog.
  • People who want to test new ideas in the market or grow their existing businesses.
  • People who need an inexpensive eCommerce solution that delivers real features.
  • People who need a simple eCommerce solution with a low learning curve.
  • People who want a fast eCommerce solution they can set up in minutes.

Even for people who are comfortable with writing code, this widget offers a great solution for quickly adding one-of-a-kind items or special offers that might not justify the amount of work needed to hand-code product pages.

Highlights: My favorite PayPal Storefront features

  • Social Object/Sharing: Anyone who likes your store can republish it on their own page with a click, thus increasing your store's exposure. The sales still go to you, but if you build a store that excites people they can show it off on their own site. The popularity of social shopping networks and widgets suggest to me that this is a feature people will use.
  • The default display of the widget shows a thumbnail gallery of all the products available for purchase. Each thumbnail loads a more detailed page with a larger image where the item can be purchased. If you hover over an item with the mouse, an enlarged view of the item will display.
  • You can log in to make changes to your store at any time without having to create the whole thing from scratch. This is a huge improvement over the old service.
  • When adding new items to the store you start by copying one of your existing products and then editing it. If you have many products with similar features, this can be a big time saver!
  • The drop down menus used to create your storefront are much easier to use than the old form-based interface for buy now buttons. Everything is on one page and displays selections based on your choices. The interface for building the store is not only beautiful, it's logical, simple, easy to use and understand.
  • You can create multiple PayPal storefronts… This is great for bloggers who would like to feature specific products within a blog post. In a way, this could be one of the most powerful features for bloggers… Imagine embedding a store on every post with items relevant to what you're writing about and total control of what's displayed! For instance, if your business is service based, you could embed a store that sells the service you're writing about as well as related services.
  • The widget supports inventory control and the ability to close your store if you are on vacation or away.
  • Store policies are contained in the widget, including contact information. Since the widget is generated with Flash, your email address is safe from spambots. That's worth something right there!
  • Each item you list has a "product notes" field in addition to the description of the product. This is a space where you can put important information that you want to be sure your customers see.
  • Buyers can add and subtract items from the cart without leaving your site… All transactions happen within the cart on your site until the final step of payment, which happens on Paypal's secure servers as it did in previous products.

For a more comprehensive overview of features and benefits, visit my PayPal Storefront review at TypePad Hacks. If you'd like to compare the widget to several dozen other eCommerce options that can be integrated with TypePad please check out my article: Blogs as Stores: A Comprehensive Overview of eCommerce Solutions for Bloggers.

John T. Unger
TypePadHacks.org

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