A new shopping platform allows merchants to showcase their inventory on the social network.
Allison Enright , Editor
A new shopping platform that exposes in-store inventory from local merchants to web shoppers launched this week. The Wishpond RetailConnect service lets merchants set up stores on Facebook and sends retailers’ product feeds to Google Product Search and Bing Shopping.
Wishpond Technologies Inc. is a shopping search engine designed to help consumers find the products they are searching for on the web and connect them to a retailer where they can buy the product locally.
For example, the company says a store-based retailer can import its product inventory to Wishpond from its point-of-sale system and launch a Facebook storefront on its Facebook page in a single business day.
Retailers, such as outdoor videographer supplier Campbell Cameras, which sells online and through one retail location, and Edwin Watts Golf, which also sells online and through 70 retail locations, use the service to operate their Facebook stores. Retailers can also send their inventory feed to Google and Bing so those search engines can display details of the retailers’ catalog in search results. Wishpond synchronizes the online product feeds with in-store inventory so search results won’t say a product is available in store when it is out of stock.
Wishpond RetailConnect is free to retailers with fewer than five bricks-and-mortar stores that have 100 or fewer items in their inventory. Paid plans start at $30 per month and go up to $300 per month for larger retailers with 25,000 or more products.
Forrester Research Inc. says 70% of U.S. online consumers have used the web to research products and then proceeded to purchase offline. The research firm predicts that the web will influence 53% of all U.S. retail sales by 2014.