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November 19, 2012

Facebook takes further steps in becoming an ecommerce platform

The site’s new gift service is the latest attempt in establishing itself as a preferred platform for online shopping.

By Tineka Smith

Facebook gifts

Facebook recently announced a limited gift service in September which allows users to send real gifts to friends and family directly from the site.

Users can choose a gift as well as a card to send to friends on Facebook. The gift will post on the friend’s timeline or can be sent privately. Members that are sent gifts can unwrap them virtually before receiving the real gift at their address.

Gifts can be sent from birthday reminders or from a friend’s timeline.

Facebook also gives the option of paying right away or later as well as letting gift receivers exchange for something else.

Facebook gifts

The social network has since added hundreds of gifts and new retail partners including babyGap, Fab, Brookstone, Dean & Deluca, L’Occitane, Lindt, ProFlowers, Random House, Inc. and NARS Cosmetics.

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Users also have the option to gift TV shows and music with subscriptions to Hulu Plus, Rdio and Pandora.

The gift service will continue to roll out to Facebook members globally over the next few weeks.

While Facebook has made several attempts in convincing brands to accept the "F-Commerce," idea, the newest gift service could actually prove successful for the company.

"The prospect of a full scale rollout of Facebook Gifts could be a real shot in the arm for Facebook and its drive to convince brands to commit to the concept of F-commerce," said Richard Britton, managing director at Cloudsense.

"Even before its IPO Facebook was working to make the site more palatable for retailers and brands as a potential sales channel. Retailers are keen to use Facebook to tap into its massive market of one billion users to drive sales and develop another revenue stream, they just need convincing. It remains a catch 22 situation: brands need to get involved for the system to take off yet many won’t commit to the platform until they see success stories from other brands. If Facebook can demonstrate that ‘Gifts’ does indeed appeal to consumers, then Facebook, its shareholders, consumers and brands will ultimately win."

If the social network’s gift platform can win over brands then it could prove to be a lucrative way of bringing in money for the firm while proving to investors it can make money in other ways than only advertising.

"Brands will need to adapt to the innovation by removing silos between business systems to deliver a more granular view of the customer that can be the basis for a long term relationship. Brands are still to be 100 per cent convinced about the overall success of F-commerce, but the introduction of new and usable tools like Facebook Gifts could go a long way to towards tipping the balance."

Please follow this writer on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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