June 4, 2008, 12:00 AM

Little widget lets musicians market memorabilia via MySpace

Apparel and gifts e-retailer Zazzle.com is offering bands the ability to sell their custom merchandise not just on Zazzle.com but also in a new location: their MySpace pages.

Personalized apparel and gifts e-retailer Zazzle.com Inc. is now allowing musicians to sell their custom goods not just on Zazzle.com but also in the social scene. It’s using a widget, a tiny application that lets bands creating and selling merchandise to launch a miniature version of the Zazzle.com store on their MySpace pages.

A band can download the widget from Zazzle.com’s MySpace Music page to its page and use an interface with Zazzle’s data feed to select its own merchandise and create a product gallery within the widget. There, the a fan with a MySpace account can browse the merchandise, select a product, hit Complete Purchase, and be automatically sent from the widget store to Zazzle.com, which handles payment and order fulfillment and tracks commissions. Because the widget is essentially an extension of the Zazzle.com web store, bands may only offer items they offer on Zazzle.com through the widgets.

The idea is to let bands set up shop in an environment where fans already congregate and interact with the bands, a setting where bands have their entertainment and promotional web content. Revenue for band memorabilia sold through the widgets is shared between Zazzle and the music groups.

“We’re giving customers the ability to sell their goods online in a place contextually relevant to them,” says James Heckman, chief strategy officer at Zazzle.com. “The bands want to keep people interacting on their MySpace page, so they have this dynamic shopping subsection that keeps their fans on the page.”

Experts say widgets can be a solid new addition to many e-retailers’ sales and marketing strategies. Widgets drive a brand’s reach, offering another way to maintain meaningful communication with customers, says Steven Plous, CEO of Direct Message Lab, which builds widgets as well as applications for social networks and mobile commerce.

“Now brands can engage a shopper in places where the shopper selects, where the shopper spends time online,” Plous says. “The ability to move the same branding between diverse environments, such as an e-commerce site and a social network profile and a blog, with just a few clicks makes widgets unique. This flexibility enables widgets to be shared virally and drive exponential growth in the user base.”

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