After a two-year hiatus, Gifts are returning to Facebook in a limited test for U.S. members.
Shuttered in 2010, Gifts allowed members to purchase digital goods for their friends. Thanks to the acquisition of Karma — a mobile gift-giving service — members can now choose from hundreds of physical goods already for sale, such as flowers, food items, fashion accessories, household items, magazines, and more.
Early partners include Magnolia Bakery, Starbucks, Uber, Warby Parker, and about 100 others. Participants will likely see a boost in traffic thanks to the extra distribution and promotion — similar to the spike Open Graph apps have seen.
Facebook has made the gift-giving process fairly easy. Gifts can be sent through birthday reminders or from friends’ Timelines. The sender doesn’t even have to know the recipient’s address. Once received, he or she will unwrap it digitally — either on Timeline or within the inbox, depending on whether the Gift is public or private — enter his or her address, and wait for it to arrive in the mail.
If every active member sent just one Gift, Facebook would see 955 million transactions — that’s an impressive success rate for a company just dipping its toe in the commerce waters. Facebook will, of course, keep a percentage of the transaction cost.
Gifts is currently available to a small subset of U.S. members — if you receive a gift, you’ll automatically be added to the pilot — and is available on desktop, Android, and mobile web. An iOS version should be available in a few weeks. Merchants interested in having their product or service added to Facebook Gifts can contact the company.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.