Facebook has added physical goods to its less tangible features with today’s launch of Facebook Gifts, the company’s first ecommerce initiative and an entirely new revenue stream.
The social media juggernaut tried out virtual gift-giving once before, but these are actual real-world items that people can send to Facebook friends. They have a larger profit margin than virtual goods, too.
Among the products already on offer are Starbucks gift cards, cupcakes, stuffed animals, gourmet ice cream and flowers, with many more promised to be added soon. The ecommerce functionality is likely the result of Facebook acquiring mobile gift-giving startup Karma in May.
Where appropriate, recipients can make their own choices regarding things like color, size or flavor. They also can opt to swap it for something else entirely, making it possible to exchange a gift before even receiving it.
Facebook is offering the “Gift” option on birthday reminders and when visiting a friend’s timeline. It also is offering corporate gifting services for companies who want to send a gift to multiple people.
Recipients immediately receive a notice enabling them to “unwrap” a preview of the gift before it gets sent out, and they then enter the address they want it delivered to.
Facebook Gifts – http://www.facebook.com/about/gifts
Facebook – press release
Associated Press – Facebook ‘gifts’ launch, users can send presents
All Things D – Say Hello to Gifts, Facebook’s New Mobile Revenue Stream
Los Angeles Times – Facebook unwraps a gift service with hopes of sparking revenue