Gifts includes products from hundreds of merchants that have partnered with Facebook. Users can choose an item for a friend, select a virtual card, write a message and send it through Facebook. The recipient is notified about the gift, and after reading the card and seeing a preview of the item, he or she enters a mailing address. This makes it so that the gift-giver doesn’t need to know where to have the package sent. Facebook handles the shipping and uses notifications to help users track the progress of the delivery.
Users can send gifts directly from birthday reminders or from friends’ timelines, either on desktop or mobile. They can post a preview of the gift on a friend’s timeline or send it privately.
The social network gradually released Gifts to groups of users over the past 10 weeks since the product launched. Facebook has not publicly talked about plans to expand internationally. However, last month the company added a job listing for a customs and trade manager, which is likely related to making Gifts available more globally.
Facebook hasn’t revealed what percentage of sales it is taking from Gifts, but it apparently varies by partner or item. In exchange, Facebook helps promote the goods, photographing the products, writing copy and displaying them on site. Facebook also provides merchants with packaging materials and helps with tracking shipping and customer service. Much of this process and infrastructure seems to have come from Karma, the mobile gift company that Facebook acquired in May.
Facebook had a gift shop from 2007 to 2010, which mostly offered virtual gifts that users share on each other’s walls, however the company experimented with physical goods on a limited scale in 2009. That gift shop allowed users to buy schedule gifts that wouldn’t be shared with a friend until their birthday, for instance. This isn’t supported in the current version of Facebook Gifts, but would be helpful, especially during the holidays when people are doing shopping ahead of time. We’d also like to see Facebook eventually support group buying so users can pool together and buy a larger gift for a friend.
Current partners for Facebook Gifts range from Starbucks, iTunes, babyGap, Robert Mondavi Winery, Brookstone, L’Occitane, Mrs. Fields, Fab.com and more. Users can also make charitable donations in a friend’s name.
More about Facebook Gifts:
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