Last week, at an event shrouded in secrecy, Facebook unveiled 14 new retail partners for Facebook Gifts and said that the online shopping app, available as a trial to selected users since its launch in October, is now available to all Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada.
Among the new participants in the e-commerce platform are Brookstone, babyGap, L'Occitane, Lindt, Dean & DeLuca, Mondavi, Chandon, Fab, ProFlowers, Random House, Inc., and NARS cosmetics. It also added online subscription services Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Rdio as gift choices and said that 11 non-profit organizations including Girls Inc. are participating, allowing users to contribute to charity as a gift to someone.
"Nowhere do people go more to share life's moments than to Facebook," said Lee Linden, head of commerce at Facebook at the event, held at the iconic FAO Schwarz toy store on New York's Fifth Avenue. Linden is also founder of Karma, the gifting startup that the social media giant purchased in May to drive its new e-commerce efforts,
"Sending a gift is as easy as attaching a photo," he added. The new app lets users choose and then send a gift to any Facebook friend by attaching and sending it with an e-card, asking the gift recipient to fill in the shipping information. Facebook also gives the undecided giver gift recommendations based on that friend's age, sex, and stated likes.
Facebook kept the details of the event unusually close to its chest, with even participating retailers having no idea what the evening held in store. "We were just told to show up," said Bradford Shellhammer, co-founder and chief creative officer at Fab, a hip e-commerce design startup invited to participate in Facebook Gifts. "Facebook loves us. We look for cool stuff to sell to people," Shellhammer said, who noted that since its founding little over a year ago, Fab has garnered nine million online members.
Upscale food purveyor Dean & DeLuca, which will be selling gift baskets and more on Facebook Gifts, is expecting to introduce a largely younger crowd to its products via its presence on the new platform. "It's about remaining vibrant and encouraging people to broaden their tastes," Malissa Nelson, e-commerce director at Dean & DeLuca told ClickZ.
Jeff Petrosillo, senior e-commerce manager at L'Occitane, which sells beauty products from the Provence, said the company has about 550,000 followers on Facebook and is thrilled at the potential for those followers to share its products with their friends.