(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — Forget virtual goods, Facebook wants you to start buying real goods or gifts on its social network. On Thursday the company launched Facebook Gifts, a service that lets you send real gifts to your Facebook friends. Similar to Treater, which ABC News covered last month, Facebook has teamed up with such retailers as Starbucks, 1-800-Flowers, Gund and Magnolia Bakery to make it easy to buy and send gifts to your friends through the site.
“Today people use Facebook to talk about and share sentiments about important life moments — a birthday, a baby, an anniversary. And we think this is a great extension of how people can celebrate those moments on Facebook,” Lee Linden, the product manager of Facebook Gifts, told ABC News. “We built an end-to-end gifting service; you never have to leave Facebook to send a gift.”
The gift feature will now appear underneath a friend’s birthday on the site. Click the “Give a gift” link and it will prompt you to pick a gift and then pay. You can send the gift privately or publicly. It will post it to your friend’s Timeline. Once it’s been sent your friend will receive a message and they can input their physical address if it is a physical item that has to be sent via postal mail. Gift cards, like the ones offered by Starbucks, can be sent digitally. Facebook has teamed up with over 100 retailers and will be adding more in the weeks to come.
The service will also add to Facebook’s revenue stream and turn the company into an e-commerce site of sorts. “We partner with companies, curate the companies’ gifts, and we put their product in front of people on Facebook. As part of that we take a percentage of each transaction,” Linden said.
Facebook went public in May and has since been criticized by analysts for its poor performance. It offered the stock at $38 on May 18, but the stock quickly fell about 50 percent. On Monday it dropped another nine percent, and closed Thursday at $20.32.
On Sept. 11 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted the performance of the stock had been disappointing and promised sweeping changes to the company’s mobile app, which does not show advertising effectively enough for many sponsors. The Gifts service launches with mobile integration. “Today you can send a gift from Android and Desktop. You will be able to send a gift from iOS in a few weeks,” Linden said.
Facebook Gifts will begin rolling out Thursday in the U.S.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Parija Kavilanz, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com