Boomerang Makes Social Gifting A Local Experience

By Justin Lafferty 

Social gifting, which is becoming wildly popular on Facebook, has largely been conducted through gift cards and major retailers. Boomerang wants to make social gifting a local experience. The Chicago-based program is expanding to New York, Indianapolis, and Austin, Texas, offering small businesses and local retailers a chance to get in on the social gifting fun.

Boomerang takes a user’s Facebook location and interest data to suggest an experience-based present. Say you have a friend in New York who enjoys a good locally brewed beer or is in need of some pampering at a spa. A user can give a gift from a local small business, making it a little more special than a general gift card.

Boomerang started in Chicago, but it has now opened up shop in Indianapolis, Austin, and New York. If you don’t have friends in those cities, you can still utilize Boomerang for more general gifts, from retailers such as Foot Locker, Barnes & Noble, and Victoria’s Secret. People can also give the gift of charity by donating to organizations such as The Greater Chicago Food Depository and Mercy Corps. Users can redeem the gifts online or using their phones.

When a user decides to give a gift, Boomerang delivers it in a very visually pleasing way, with an attractive virtual envelope. The benevolent act also creates an open graph action when it is delivered and claimed:

Boomerang Founder and CEO Zachary Smith spoke with AllFacebook about how the program has changed social gifting by including an experience-based platform, helping out local businesses:

These are all things that you can go out and do together, and we think that makes for a really powerful gift … When we started doing more research in the gifting space, we realized there’s a ton of money in play there. There’s a lot exciting happening with social and mobile, but not many people are doing anything with local businesses. So, we thought: Wouldn’t local packages and experiences make great gifts? So we went out and we interviewed a few hundred people here in Chicago about their preferences in social gifting, and 70 percent of them told us that they would prefer to give a gift from a local business than a gift card from a national retailer.

Readers: Do you think Boomerang is a step in the right direction for small businesses?