Facebook Gifts was supposed to be the social network’s entry into the e-commerce game. The thinking was sound: connect credit cards with users’ accounts and get people used to buying products on Facebook. If anything, Gifts was a potential move against Amazon, among other e-commerce players.
But now, perhaps caught up in the holiday spirit, Amazon’s making its own move in the digital gift arena.
On Wednesday Amazon announced its own gift-giving service in partnership with MasterCard that lets users upload their loved ones’ birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and receive notifications as the occasions near—with convenient links to shop for them on Amazon. Interestingly, the key for the new initiative, dubbed Amazon’s Friends & Family Gifting, will be its ties with Facebook.
Currently, users can connect their Amazon accounts with their Facebook accounts, which gives Amazon access to friends’ profile pictures, birth dates and likes—all information that can be used to to populate gift ideas. Being able to pull users’ interest data from Facebook would seem to pull the rug from underneath Facebook Gifts—which was rolled out to all U.S. users on Tuesday—but Amazon’s being a bit sly about that move.
“Customers do not have to interact with Facebook in any way to enjoy Friends & Family Gifting. We just thought it made for an easy way to add friends and grab their pictures and birthdays,” Amazon says on the service’s Frequently Asked Questions page.
However Amazon has introduced one feature that Facebook’s gift-giving service lacks. While both Amazon and Facebook can crunch users’ profile information to spit out gift ideas, Amazon’s service also lets users manually compile Wish Lists of presents they’d like or their friends would like. If someone’s Facebook friend has also connected his Facebook account with Amazon, they can view that friend’s Wish List when their birthday pops up to facilitate the present-purchasing process.
Friends & Family Gifting is the second service Amazon has rolled out in as many months that plays in Facebook's court. Last month Amazon launched brand pages for marketers add a social presence on the e-commerce site.