PayPal’s Shoptimist Offers Group Buying and Sweepstakes

PayPal is preparing to launch its new social shopping experience Shoptimist. Shoptimists Unite will allow users to invite their friends to purchase group deals which reduce in price with more buyers, or enter sweepstakes to win popular items. Neither feature on its new Shoptimist Facebook Page are fully active yet, but PayPal is preparing itself for the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush.

PayPal has increased its focus on social this year, even as social developers have brought in new business for the eBay-owned service due to the rise of virtual goods payments.

It announced a partnership with Facebook in February to become a payment method for Facebook ads and Credits. In October it launched a reduced friction checkout process for purchasing virtual goods and currency without redirecting to another site, making PayPal a more attractive option for these kinds of transactions. Other companies offering group deals through Facebook include Wal-Mart with its CrowdSaver, heavyweight Groupon, and LivingSocial which gives a user a free coupon if three friends they invite purchase it too.

The Shoptimist Facebook Page briefly explains the experience. It’s using a Sweepstakes tab where users must Like the Page to be eligible to enter in order to stimulate growth. Prizes include electronics from Samsung and Sony, and gift cards from Netflix and Zappos.

Shoptimists Unite will allow users to invite friends to “get a group discount on this week’s hot item. If enough people buy in, we’ll sweeten the deal.” This sounds similar to existing group deal systems, but appears to be focused on physical items rather than discounts on services like dining or getting $50 worth of goods from an entire store for $25.

Lastly, users can vote on what kind of deals they want to see on Shoptimist. Amongst the options of clothes, electronics, housewares, and travel, electronics is the clear preference with over 50% of the votes.

The massive profits group deals are creating for some providers seem to have been too lucrative to pass up, even if PayPal will be extending away from its core functionality. Its trusted name and vast cross-promotion opportunities should help with customer acquisition, despite being late in following the trend.