If you’ve ever wanted to send your Facebook friends cupcakes or Starbucks gift cards, you’re in luck. The social networking giant has launched Facebook Gifts, the first venture for the company into the selling of physical goods.
While the momentary Facebook Gift Shop let users purchase virtual presents for their friends, Facebook Gifts allows users to purchase more tangible presents for their friends. This has come out of Facebook’s May purchase of Karma, a “social gifting app.”
100 retailers, including Starbucks, have signed on with the deal. Facebook will get a cut from each sale, which could add up to a decent revenue stream for the company looking for any and every way to make some dough. The IPO led to faltering stock prices, creating an exigent need for revenue opportunities.
Facebook Gifts users will first buy a gift for a friend and add a message. The recipient of the gift is notified that a gift has been purchased for him or her. From there, the recipient can change the gift to match his or her preferences and will be asked to provide a shipping address. Finally, the gift is delivered.
There are, of course, some privacy concerns associated with Facebook Gifts.
The Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center have pressed the Federal Trade Commission to look into how Facebook’s data-sharing agreement with Datalogix might be a violation of the FTC’s settlement with the social networker over privacy practices. According to Facebook, the shared information is “hashed and therefore anonymous.”
With Facebook incorporating its current pool of social data with a real commerce experience, one has to wonder how the privacy concerns will be addressed and how they could impact Facebook Gifts.
In any event, Facebook Gifts is going forward and is already operational in some markets. It is expected to expand in the coming weeks to more markets.
It remains to be seen how effective Facebook Gifts will be and how many more retail partnerships they’ll be able to obtain as the experiment develops. The plan is to increase their presence into the e-commerce space, but that’s not exactly the easiest of tasks with the likes of eBay and Amazon already dominating the field.