They wanted to play in the world that Amazon and other companies have dominated for a while. They weren’t asking for much, just a little taste of the gigantic pie of retail goods for delivery. Now, flowers, stuffed animals, and cupcakes are being replaced by gift cards and digital redemption codes.
It’s okay. Very few people were buying them anyway.
Facebook gifts has seen some pretty decent success. It’s still a tiny part of their revenue, but it’s something that pushes the brand out to more people. In essence, they’re marketing a little with every gift that’s given. While teddy bears may have been a decent idea overall, it only accounted for 20% of the total gifts given.
On events like birthdays, Facebook users are prompted to give gifts to their close friends. It works – I received 8 Starbucks gift cards my last birthday – and is a great way for Facebook to get into more pocketbooks. The physical gifts weren’t as popular for a clear reason – one had to wait for shipping and most of the gifts are given on the day of the event.
“We’re really making the decision based on user feedback,” said Lee Linden, head of Facebook’s Gifts program, in an interview with AllThingsD’s Mike Isaac. “The physical stuff is interesting for sure, but our goal is to build stuff that’s really great for the majority of people who are using it.”
This is the realm that Facebook wants to break into. They dominate social networking and are a part of millions of websites on the internet, but they have yet to establish a true physical presence. They own mobile device usage, computer time, and other forms of communication, but they have a tiny footprint in the real world. Expect this to change as they continue to find ways to breach the barrier.