Tonight at the Facebook Gifts event at giant toy store FAO Schwarz in New York, the company announced that Facebook Gifts is available to tens of millions of users starting today. Many new partners are on board, as well: babyGap, Fab, Brookstone, Dean & Deluca, L’Occitane, Lindt, ProFlowers, Random House, Inc. and NARS Cosmetics, as well as subscription services Hulu Plus, Pandora and Rdio. Wines from Robert Mondavi Winery and Chandon will come in a couple of weeks.
Tapjoy co-founder Lee Linden took the stage, on the giant piano made popular by Tom Hanks in Big, to make the announcement. The theme of the conference was partners and availability, confirming that Facebook is committed to its new Gifts product.
With Facebook Gifts, which is the result of the company’s Karma acquisition, Facebook wants to make e-commerce more convenient by handling everything on the platform, from gift selection to payment and delivery. But Facebook’s main asset is that it remains the dominant social network on which to share personal things with friends. Gifts are now something else available for sharing. You can even choose to share publicly that you made a gift on Facebook.
Right after Hurricane Sandy, Facebook made it possible to give to charities using the Gifts service. It reiterated tonight that the feature will remain available.
When the company announced Facebook Gifts, it claimed that over 100 partners were already on board, including Uber, Starbucks, Warby Parker, 1-800-Flowers, Magnolia Bakery, Happy Socks, and Jessica Alba’s Honest Company. But it only rolled out to a few users in the U.S. While American users are still first, rollout has been much faster than anticipated as tens of millions of users can now use the service. It makes sense as this kind of service is particularly useful for holiday season.
Facebook Gifts will certainly help revenue for Facebook. It is a low-risk business, because partners handle stocks, availability and others tedious e-commerce issues. Another important side effect is that it will allow Facebook to collect home addresses and credit cards — data that could be valuable in the future.