Soldsie, a platform that lets merchants accept transactions on their Facebook page by having fans simply post a comment, announced today that it has secured a $1 million seed funding round from 500 Startups, e.ventures and FundersClub in addition to several angel investors. Launched in September 2012, the platform is now processing more than $1 million in transactions per month for over 1,500 merchants, from clothing boutiques to sports teams.
The company was co-founded by Chris Bennett and Arrel Gray because they felt merchants should be able to get more out of their Facebook following. “We noticed that there was a need for this on Facebook and so we started to focus on building the features to let merchants sell on Facebook,” said Bennett in an interview with BetaKit.
After registering and connecting their PayPal accounts, brands are able to post photos of their merchandise, letting users know they can purchase the items by commenting with word “sold.” After commenting, fans register with the Soldsie app on Facebook to provide their shipping and payment information. The catch is obviously that anyone can comment with the word “sold” on a post, but only registered Soldsie members actually complete the purchase process. The company says that since launch over 100,000 Facebook users have signed up for the app.
On the backend, merchants have access to a dashboard that shows them who has commented, so they can email them an invoice and track the entire process all the way through to shipping. Soldsie has three pricing tiers depending on the volume of sales a merchant is looking to process on the platform each month. Its standard plan has the company taking three percent of each transaction including 2.9 percent PayPal-related charges, though it’s free for small businesses doing less than $700 worth of monthly transactions on the platform.
Social in-stream commerce has continued to take off with several startups tackling the challenge for merchants, helping them increasingly transition from an online storefront to one-click selling. Prior to Soldsie, we’ve covered platforms like Ribbon, which recently raised funding and added Facebook in-stream purchases, in addition to platforms like Chirpify with its focus on Twitter and expansion out to Instagram that lets users purchase an item by tweeting the word ‘buy’ or commenting that word on the photo-sharing app.
Soldsie can expect existing platforms to add Facebook comments to their instant commerce platforms, and likely from Facebook itself as it looks to help brands monetize their followings. Facebook’s Collections feature is one attempt to help brands showcase their products, letting them compile Pinterest-style galleries of products, and letting Facebook users like products and click through to buy them from the retailer’s website.
The company is now working to add more features based on merchant feedback, which is where the bulk of the funding will be used. According to TechCrunch, the company will also be partnering with fulfillment and ecommerce platforms like Shopify.
As brands and merchants turn to social networks to increase their bottom line as opposed to only using them for brand awareness and customer engagement, the race to provide the most frictionless transaction process for each individual platform will determine large-scale adoption. Soldsie has a long way to go but with its initial focus on Facebook, the company can carve out a niche for itself based on the success it drives for merchants on the popular network. Whether it will see demand from merchants for expansion to other social networks is another question, and right now that’s a void that startups like Chirpify are more than happy to fill.