Facebook has begun testing a new feature called “Collections,” which allows retailers to post product photos with “Want” or “Collect” buttons, as well as links to buy from their sites.
TechCrunch reports that seven retailers are testing the feature: Michael Kors, Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics and Fab.com.
The feature uses large images that users can hover over and click either “Want,” “Collect” or “Like.” TechCrunch says Facebook is testing variations of the feature to determine which button users respond to best. Each button saves items to a section of users’ Timelines, either called “Products” or “Wishlist.” Facebook is testing whether these collections should be visible to friends only or friends of friends.
When users browse a collection, there are links directing users to buy the items from the retailer’s website. It is possible there will be a way to distinguish already purchased items from a user’s products list. Collection posts also include native Facebook features such as Like, share, and comment.
TechCrunch reports that collection posts only show up for a page’s fans, though we have been able to view some collections on pages that we have not Liked. See examples from Michael Kors, Pottery Barn and Wayfair, but note that the links may not work for non-fans.
With the company recently announcing the new Gifts product, this is another way Facebook could eventually expand its business model through purchases of physical goods. Currently, though, Facebook is not taking a percentage of purchases made after clicking on collections links. TechCrunch says it is not charging retailers to use the feature, but it is still in beta. We may see the social network take a similar approach to what it has done with Offers, which started with select partners and then rolled out more widely for free, but now require page owners to buy ads to promote the offer.
This new feature is familiar in design to competitor Pinterest, though this is not the first time Facebook has updated it’s design to look more like pinboards. The functionality is also similar to a version of Facebook Questions we saw being tested in August. Collections are limited offerings compared to Pinterest at this testing stage, but they fulfill a similar consumer desire to browse, discover and share products they are interested in. On Pinterest, however, users can add their own content and save items they find all over the web. It’s unclear whether Facebook will create an option for individual users to create their own collections or if the vision is for this to be a pages-only feature. Pinterest also has the option for users to browse items by category, which could be useful if Facebook allows more pages to begin posting collections.
Although some users are now seeing a “Want” button, the feature announced today seems to be different from the Want plugin we saw Facebook testing in the past. That product seemed to be for publishers to implement on their own websites, not on their Facebook pages. Ultimately these might be combined in some way so that users can have a single wishlist for items they discover on Facebook, the web and in apps.