Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Facebook gifts: innovative way to monetise personal occassions

Facebook has identified a new way to monetise its access to people through Facebook gifts: an innovative offering that makes gifting easier and social. Facebook has added a few options in this scheme that might even make it a preferred way of gifting unless online retailers adapt / copy it soon. Presently gifting is only allowed for users based out of the United States. But it should soon to roll out in other countries having good online retail networks. This can both be seen as an opportunity as well as a threat by the online retailers - an opportunity to retail their products in an omnipresent network while a threat in having to deal with powerfull middleman like Facebook and share margins with them.

Facebook first rolled out Facebook Gifts in September 2012 after its acquisition of gift startup Karma in May 2012. After trials its now been launched for all users residing in the US. Users just need to click on ‘Give a gift’ option on a friends profile to now send them a gift. This button might soon be available on the homepage along with the Birthday Wish option. Alternatively users can just access to gift their freinds and relatives

Facebook provides a wide variety of categories to choose a gift from — Gift cards and Digital, Food, Wine, Apartment & Bar, Beauty & Grooming, Style, Flowers & Gift Baskets, Baby & Kids, and Gifts that give back. 
There is also an option in the form of Facebook Card, a reusable Facebook-branded plastic card. The receiver will get this card in mail about a week after accepting your gift. Then they can use it to make purchases at the store or restaurant hes (his or her) friend gifted you. Facebook Card can also store balances at multiple businesses simultaneously. So the next time you receive a Facebook Card gift, the gift amount will be added to your existing Facebook Card. 

You do not need to provide a shipping address while gifting; your friend will provide that information when hes (he or she) receives the notification of the gift. On the final page, you'll enter in your payment information.  Weirdly Facebook doesnt allow existing Facebook Credits balance to pay for the Gift purchase. Doing this would have allowed Facebook currency to be valuable and maybe even a chosen way to pay online later. When sending a gift, you'll be required to complete payment using a credit or debit card. If a friend doesn't open the gift and enter a shipping address within 2 weeks of being notified, the order will be automatically cancelled and Facebook will refund the payment.

Once you've chosen a gift you can pick out a card to accompany it. The cards are searchable based on the occasion, such as holidays, birthday, thank you, baby, get well, graduation and wedding. After you personalise the card, which only you and the person who's receiving it will see, Facebook will take you to the checkout page. Here, you'll review the final details of your gift, including whether you want to share the gift on your friend's timeline. 

Now lets see the best part of Facebook gift, your friend has an option to swap it for an item of equal or lesser value that hes likes. You wouldnt be notified and the gift you sent would continue to be shown on the timeline. But your friend will get a product that hes likes more. Facebook too is happy that it gets to keep the difference between the two gifts. Still a nice option. Other online retailers should also find a similar way to allow people to swap their gifts. Yes, there is the gift voucher option. But its too boring. Rather allow the sender the pleasure of choosing the gift and the receiver the pleasure of receiving what hes wants while keeping his friend hes friend happy.

So will you use Facebook to gift someone. Let us know @playandthink.

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