eBay Watch: PayPal Offers Storefront Widget

We test-drive PayPal's new Storefront Web Widget. It's easy to use and lets casual sellers pitch items on their blogs and personal Web pages.
This week PayPal released a new Web widget (define) that lets you embed a virtual storefront onto your blog or any Web site that uses HTML code (define). Compared with some of the many widgets covered previously in eBay Watch at ECommerce-Guide, the PayPal Storefront Widget stands out as one with more features to help you list products, set prices and start selling in an online storefront format.

When I set up my own PayPal Storefront Widget for the first time, which took about 10 minutes to create with one listed product, I was rather impressed with how easy the interface is to use. Once you select "Create a New Store" from the main page, you have the following five steps and options to choose from:

  1. Themes & Colors: First you choose one of 25 themes or one of 15 3D color swatches that serves as the border around the Web widget.

  2. Title & Logo: Here you enter in the Badge title; that is, a name for your storefront widget. You can enter a URL to a store logo if you have one (image should be 60x35 pixels), and then choose your basic text color.

  3. Store Policies: Form fields are available for providing your buyers with shipping, contact and any other additional information. Personally, I would use the  "Additional" box to mention things such as your return policy specifics, any Web stores you might operate, and also any business-related information that will help you build trust with new shoppers viewing your PayPal Storefront Widget. It's also important to remember that any item listed must meet PayPal's policy requirements, which you can read more about on the PayPal Web site.

  4. Products: Choose to display all products, a single product or a rotating selection of products on the widget main page. You can also choose to show zero inventory items as "sold out" or hide it until inventory is restocked. The Products section also includes a form for entering in specific details for the products you are selling. The information you include is the title, the price (in US dollars), a product description and the URL to an image of the product (image should be 188x168 pixels). This information is entered under the "Details" tab. On the "Inventory" tab you can enter the number of products you have for sale and any special notes such as size information or special deals.

  5. Store Open/Closed: You can choose to have your store open or display a "temporarily closed" notice to buyers. There is also a check box option to allow customers to place an order when the store is closed.

For those viewing your storefront, the widget offers an index page that shows thumbnail images of all of the items for sale, individual product pages that show buyers a larger image view, the item price and the option to buy the item. The widget's shopping cart page simulates a basic e-commerce shopping cart by showing buyers which items they have selected to purchase. From this page, buyers can adjust quantities of items, remove items from the cart and checkout securely by making a PayPal payment. 

Once you create your PayPal Storefront widget it can be duplicated by viewers when they use the "Copy Badge Page" option. This lets others display your storefront on their blog or Web page.

The resulting storefront is an exact replica of your original, and rest assured that all orders and funds are delivered to the original owner of the PayPal Storefront Widget that was duplicated. The PayPal Storefront Widget is optimized for TypePad blogs and HTML Web sites, however PayPal says it will be expanding the functionality to fit any Web site, blog or social networking profile that accepts HTML code.

Vangie Beal is a seasoned eBay seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com and managing editor of Webopedia.com.

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