We reported days ago that Facebook was working on an e-commerce gifting service after a job listing hinted at the imminent launch of Facebook Gifts. Today, using the technology behind the mobile gifting app Karma, Facebook Gifts was finally launched and marks the platform’s foray into a full-fledged e-commerce site.
Facebook’s first social gifting service called Gift Shop turned out to be a bust and proceeded to leave the gifting ecosystem up to other third party developers building in-app services. The first time around, the site took its chances with virtual gifts like birthday cards you could purchase with Facebook credits. This time, the majority of the gifts, from what we could discern, are tangible products sold by participating commerce partners including Magnolia Bakery, Starbucks, and Warby Parker. At the very bottom of the landing page, Facebook provides a link to its contact information for businesses that are interested in making their products available through Facebook Gifts.
So how will it work? Users can visit their friend’s Timeline, and from there click on the gift tab that will at the top of the Wall. Selecting the tab will take you to a new page where you can browse gifts, select an item, and add a personalized message on a virtual card. Luckily for those of you that aren’t privy to your friend’s home addresses, the recipient of the gift will be notified and prompted to enter their address. The recipient can even change the gift’s size, color, style, or even the entire gift for something of equal or lesser value. To sweeten the deal, the gift comes packaged in a Facebook branded gift box, which is sent to its e-commerce partners who are responsible for the product’s shipment.
Facebook will also be issuing our prompts to use Gifts along with birthday announcements, as well as other life events.
Facebook has been looking to boost its bottom line, and an e-commerce model where it essentially serves as the middle man between outlets and customers — and doesn’t have to deal with shipping services or physical inventory — could be a lucrative endeavor. That isn’t to say it will be able to give the likes of Amazon or eBay a run for their money; instead its third party apps like Wrapp and Copious are the ones getting some new competition.
Facebook Gifts isn’t available just yet, but it will roll out, hitting the U.S. first.