San Francisco-based startup Soldsie started as a way for local businesses to represent themselves online, like a homepage builder for storefronts.When that proved a hard sell, the company switched towards figuring out how to help people sell things on Facebook.
“We were walking into businesses throughout [Silicon] Valley and noticed that someone would always be on Facebook,” said founder Chris Bennett. “When we asked if they were interested in selling on Facebook, their eyes would light up.”
Commerce on Facebook has proved to be a surprisingly big challenge. Facebook itself abandoned an earlier feature that let businesses run storefronts on their Facebook pages, and only recently dived back into e-commerce by letting people buy friends gifts on their birthday.
For Soldsie customers, it’s a straightforward process–you post the item on Facebook with a picture, description, and price. Whoever comments with the word “sold” buys the item. The entire process is managed through a backend dashboard that pulls in all the comments and lets you send invoices to buyers.
If you sell more than $700 worth of stuff in a month, Soldsie keeps 3%. If you sell less than that, the company’s services are free.
The process is very manual right now. When we asked about a way to automate it, Bennett said, “We can’t talk yet but we’ve got interesting things coming soon.”
How about a cute story about the first item they sold?
When Soldsie was testing the site, it posted a photo of a Giants hat for sale. A friend “liked” the post, merely as a means to show his support (he was actually a Phillies fan). His mum saw the “like” and bought him the hat, which Soldsie didn’t actually have—they were just testing their product and refunded her money.
Undeterred, the friend’s mother bought it from another store and gave it to him anyway.