Touting its ability to notify someone immediately that you bought them a present, Facebook is showing large banners atop the web and mobile news feed telling people to buy Gifts. Facebook hopes tardy shoppers will purchase through its e-commerce arm because presents bought elsewhere wouldn’t arrive before Christmas. Facebook’s won’t either but at least friends would know they have a gift on the way.
Facebook debuted Gifts in September to give people an easy way to buy a wide variety of presents for friends on special occasions like their birthdays, engagements, or graduations. It’s since rolled out Gifts to all U.S. users who have been starting to see these banners over the weekend.
Gifts uses data on who you’re closest to and what a recipient likes to make intelligent suggestions for who you should give to and what you give them. Gifts range from physical goods like flowers, chocolate, and stuffed animals to digital gifts like Starbucks, iTunes, and Uber credits. Digital Gifts are delivered immediately, which makes them great last-minute presents.
Until now, the Gift buying flow usually started with you choosing a specific person and clicking through the Gift icon on an alert about their birthday on the Facebook.com homepage or at the top of the mobile news feed.
This holiday push is different. It first tries to get you to decide to buy Gifts at all. If you click the “Get Started” button on the “Send A Last-Minute Gift” banners appearing at the top of the small and big screen news feeds, you’re shown a smart list of your closest friends. These are the people you talk with and are tagged with most and therefore are most likely to want to buy gifts for.
From there you can choose a Gift, write a personal message, pay (or pay later), and have your Gift sent. That means your friend sees a “wrapped” version of it on their wall instantly. It works well for last-minute holiday shoppers because there’s evidence that you bought someone a Gift right away, even if physical gifts take a few days to come via snail mail and don’t arrive until after Christmas. Facebook warns you Gifts will be delivered after December 25th, so you don’t think it will overnight your presents.
By using its unique data set to match you with people to give to and what to give them, Facebook has a chance to usurp ecommerce sites like Amazon. A lot of people are happy to spend money on Gifts, but its the shopping process that deters them. Facebook’s suggestions take the decision-making out of Gift giving, so it feels like a quick and casual transaction rather than something you labor over. The holidays are stressful enough after all.