This holiday season, Facebook (may) not prompt you to shop in its gift store for loved ones. Facebook is ending its Gifts program, which allows people to buy physical presents and digital gift cards for friends, on Aug. 12.
The news was first reported by TechCrunch, but Facebook has confirmed this decision to Inside Facebook:
We’ll be using everything we learned from Gifts to explore new ways to help businesses and developers drive sales on the web, on mobile, and directly on Facebook.
Facebook is working hard to make Gifts a viable e-commerce platform. As new brands are regularly added to the program, Facebook pushes Gifts whenever a friend has a birthday (or, on old News Feed, when good news is shared). Sister site AllFacebook noticed Tuesday that the main hub site for Facebook gifts has undergone a renovation.
With this aesthetic shift, Facebook has made Gifts a little more user-friendly. Now, when a person wants to send a Facebook gift to a friend via a birthday notification (or searches for Facebook Gifts in the search bar), Facebook takes the user to a page instead of a hover box. Now, users can search for gifts on a separate page with deeper features.
In what AllThingsD calls a potential PayPal competitor, the site reported that Facebook is testing a mobile payment platform that would allow users to make purchases on mobile apps, using Facebook as their login mechanism.
If you’ve already provided Facebook with your credit card information, such as through a Facebook Gifts purchase or games payment, that would be stored and used during a purchase on a separate mobile app. Facebook confirmed the test to AllThingsD, noting that it should arrive in the next month or so.
Facebook has a new “schedule gift” feature for its Gifts product, which allows users to buy something for a friend, but notify them at a later date. Previously, recipients would receive a notification immediately after the gift was purchased.
Now, when users get to the review page after selecting a gift and writing a card, there is a section where they can choose when to notify the recipient. The default is to notify the friend now, but users can also pick a day up to two weeks in advance. This option gives Facebook Gifts an additional convenience now that users can buy a birthday gift or something for another special occasion ahead of time, rather than having to complete the purchase the day of.
The social network used to offer scheduled gifts from its virtual Gift Shop in 2009, but it hadn’t brought the feature to its new Gifts product until now. The old Gift Shop was primarily a way to share virtual stickers on a friend’s Wall, until it was shut down in July 2010. The new Facebook Gifts, launched in September 2012, focuses on physical gifts, like food, wine, home goods and tchotchkes, as well as digital goods like gift cards and subscriptions to streaming services.
There is not a way to schedule the delivery of a gift for a particular day because Facebook Gifts asks the recipient for their address when they are first notified about the gift.
Commerce and payments platform Marqeta today announced that it is the company providing the technology behind the Facebook Card, a gift card that can hold balances for a number of retailers or restaurants simultaneously.
Marqeta had agreed with Facebook not to disclose this until now. The announcement came as part of news about Marqeta’s latest round of funding: a $14 million Series B from Greylock IL, Granite Ventures, Commerce Ventures and a number of new angel and strategic investors.
The company’s +M Platform connects online and offline commerce through prepaid loyalty programs, similar to the Starbucks Card. It also allows prepaid amounts from multiple merchants, which is what Facebook is taking advantage of for its card. Facebook Card is a resusable gift card that can be loaded with balances for different businesses when a user’s friends buy them gifts through the social network.
Facebook is testing a new way to encourage users to buy gifts for their friends by including a call to action within the comments section of a post.
SocialFresh CEO Jason Keath shared the example below, blurred for privacy, which says “Surprise Ty with a gift.” This is a different take on the “give a gift” button that some users had been seeing in their News Feed next to posts where their friends had shared good news. Now, instead of appearing consistently, the prompt only appears after a user has Liked the post or commented on it.
Another recently added feature is the Give Gift button in the hovercard that appears when users mouse over a friend’s name.
Facebook has started to expand its Gifts product beyond the U.S., according to users in the U.K., India and Canada who say they got access to the service this weekend. However, it seems that international users can only send gifts to their friends who live in the U.S.
Facebook launched Gifts in September 2012 as a way for users to buy physical and digital gifts for their friends via desktop or mobile. The product rolled out to all U.S. users by mid-December, but hadn’t been available in other countries until now.
[Update 4/8/13 6:03 p.m. PT - Facebook confirms to us that it launched "an update to Gifts that allows people using Facebook in English outside of the U.S. to send Gifts to friends living in the U.S."]
U.K. reader Matt Navarra sent us this screenshot of his Facebook homepage on Saturday. Inside Network contributer Pete Davison says he saw a similar prompt about Gifts today.
Zuckerberg participates in Code.org video – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey and other popular tech figures, appeared in a short film by Code.org to promote computer science education. The video, called ”What Most Schools Don’t Teach,” discusses the gap between the number of available programming jobs and the number of qualified graduates to do them. ”Our policy (at Facebook) is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find,” Zuckerberg says. “The whole limit in the system is that there aren’t enough people who are trained and have these skills today.” The video aims to raise awareness of the issue and make coding seem more approachable for students.
Facebook declares support for same-sex marriage – Facebook joined a coalition of about 300 companies including Amazon, Apple and Google, in submitting briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage this week. The briefs explain how the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages and create undue burdens on companies and employees. The document argues ”recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry is more than a constitutional issue. It is a business imperative.”
Facebook runs sale on Facebook Gifts - Facebook continues to promote its Gifts business with new features and deals. This week some users saw offers to get $4 off a gift of $5 or more. This enabled users to send users to, for example, send a $5 Starbucks gift card for only $1. Facebook previously ran $1 gift promotions before Valentine’s Day. Image via CNET.
Some Facebook users are now seeing “give a gift” buttons on individual posts in their News Feed. The social network seems to recognize that users are sharing good news that friends might want to congratulate them for.
We’ve seen two examples of posts where users talked about getting a new job and another where a user announced, “It’s a boy!”
Previously, Facebook has suggested users give gifts to friends with upcoming birthdays or who recently announced their engagement, but those are structured life events that users share by setting their birthdate or changing their relationship status. These new prompts seem to involve natural language processing.
Facebook users who have bought an item through Facebook Gifts are seeing a new dashboard with their purchase history and prompts to buy more gifts for friends.
The dashboard only appears to be available to users who have sent gifts already. Users who have not are directed to an introduction page with a video and more information about Facebook Gifts.
The dashboard page displays upcoming birthdays and friends with recent special events, such as engagements, weddings or births. Users will also see a row of friends, which changes every time they visit the page. Clicking one of these thumbnails opens up the Gifts storefront. Facebook also offers users the option to look through its catalogue without first indicating who they are shopping for by clicking “Browse Gifts” or “Give a Gift.”