Practical Ecommerce

Widgets: Moving Your Web Store Into The Community

Social media has grown to become a serious tool in a merchant’s marketing arsenal. Sites like, and others provide excellent opportunities for merchants to gain favorable reviews and referrals, and other social networking sites like,, and provide the opportunity for brand exposure.

However, perhaps the greatest social media advantage to merchants is still emerging — the ecommerce widget.

A widget is an application that can be embedded into a web-based application, such as a blog or a social network, though anything that is html-based. For ecommerce, a widget could embed a shopping cart, for example.

Widgets are a tool for merchants to take their web store across the online community, placing products where like-minded communities are gathered. So far, the music and book industry has embraced widget technology via companies like and Random House. According to, its MeCommerce widget enables its affiliates to sell CDs, DVDs and books right on their own website or blog.

Although general ecommerce widget technology is not yet perfected and only limited functionality and feature sets are available, there are a number of options worth looking into.

One of these options is being offered (in beta form) from PayPal Labs. It’s called PayPal Storefront Widget and it allows any web merchant to offer the secure PayPal payment transaction service by embedding the widget onto publisher sites. Although Storefront Widget is not completely customizable, it does make ecommerce transactions easier for both buyers and sellers. Like standard ecommerce sites, the widget includes a product image, a detailed product page, an embedded shopping cart, and explanations of the merchant’s shipping and assurance policies. Transaction processing occurs via PayPal in, currently, U.S. dollars.

Two other ecommerce widgets include and Both allow a web merchant to customize its shopping widget to fit its look and style. Both also offer free accounts and are relatively quick to setup.

This is only the beginning of a potentially powerful new way for web merchants to bring their goods and services out into the community, versus attempting to bring the community to the web store. Widgets also present a tremendous opportunity for smaller, niche ecommerce marketers to out-flank bigger brands and gain greater exposure. Although it is too early to gauge the purchasing effectiveness from ecommerce widgets across all industries, the concept has significant ramifications and is worth testing in 2008.

Kevin Gold

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  1. Legacy User January 22, 2008 Reply

    I've been wondering about the availability of ecommerce widgets for blogs. Thanks for the info.

    — *Don*

  2. Legacy User February 6, 2008 Reply

    A very popular widget found on MySpace is WebStoreWidget ( It works in MySpace profile pages, blogs, bulletins, and even comments! That's right, this one can be posted to your friends' profiles in their comments section. Imagine the viral potential of selling with this store widget. The company has widgets for other platforms and blog sites as well..

    — *Rob*

  3. Legacy User February 22, 2008 Reply

    That's an interesting plug for your company, Rob. I wonder if you work for them? I've actually been following this evolution for a while and see widget commerce as a huge angle. I've played around PayPal's storefront interface which seems different, but Cartfly seems to be out pioneering the efforts based on a recent PC World article.

    — *Christian*

  4. Legacy User April 7, 2008 Reply

    Do these widgets help someone that already has a web store or do they only help sell items on a blog or regular web site?

    — *Donna*

  5. Legacy User April 9, 2008 Reply

    We recently released an e-commerce widget for blogging. It's specific to our shopping cart software (ProductCart), but you might want to check it out. It supports affiliate ID's, so it can be used as a syndication tool as well. Making your products show up on a Blogger account, for example, literally takes less than 1 minute. Here is a link to a press release on this:

    — *Massimo Arrigoni*