Facebook has just plunged itself into the ecommerce arena with the launch of Gifts, their first-ever real-life gift exchange initiative. With Facebook Gifts, users can buy their friends gifts and they will ship right to their doorstep - and it all happens within the confines of the Facebook world.
No more hollow birthday wall posts, or congratulations on the new baby. Liking someone's "I just got a new job!" status is no longer sufficient. Now, users have to option to buy their friends something that they can actually use. This is completely different from the now defunct Facebook Gifts of old, that saw users send virtual items to friends.
Giving a gift is pretty easy. All you have to do is go to a friend's Timeline and click the gift box icon at the top. This opens up a menu that allows you to select a gift and pay for it right there (through Facebook's payments platform) - no third party sites necessary. When you give a gift, you also have the option of giving a card with a personal message. Finally, you can choose whether or not to post the gift to their Timeline or have it sent to them via private message.
Once that process is complete, the recipient will immediately receive a notification that they've been given a gift and will be asked provide their shipping address. At this point in time, the recipient can also make alterations to the gift order including color, size, or flavor (depending on the type of gift).
According to AllThingsD, Facebook Gifts is launching with over 100 retail partners from all over the map - food and drink, clothes, home goods, and toys. Facebook has announced one big-time partner in the venture - Starbucks.
Of course, this is huge boost to Facebook's potential revenue stream. There are so many occasions for which giving a gift will feel appropriate. Facebook knows this, and will be including "Give a gift" suggestions right under birthday notifications on users' home pages.
Plus, Facebook Gifts isn't just a desktop venture. It is coming to mobile - Android and mobile web first, followed by iOS.
Gifts will be rolling out across the world gradually, first appearing for users in the U.S. If you want to see a short video on Gifts, check the official Gifts page.