Amazon’s New Social Gifting Service “Amazon Birthday Gift” Leverages Facebook, Competes With Facebook’s Own Gifts

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Stealing a page right out of a startup called Aggregift’s playbook, Amazon today launched a new feature called “Amazon Birthday Gift,” which allows a group of Facebook friends to go in on an Amazon.com Gift Card together. That gift isn’t posted to the recipients’ Facebook Timeline until their big day arrives.

To get started with the service, a user buys an Amazon.com gift card, then invites other mutual friends to donate using the Birthday Gift website here. When the birthday arrives, the recipient is tagged in a Facebook Timeline wall post, receiving the digital card and everyone’s birthday greetings.

The new addition is a further expansion of Amazon’s deepening integration with Facebook, as the company last December launched a “Friends and Family Gifting” feature just ahead of the holidays to generate Facebook-enabled gift suggestions, send out reminders, and enable gift list sharing via both email and social networks. Online competitor Walmart, too, had previously launched a similar Facebook-based gift recommendation service in 2011, which was added to the Walmart.com site ahead of the 2012 holiday season.

Social gifting is still very much in the experimental phase, despite the support from e-commerce giants like Walmart, Amazon and others. For instance, Facebook has also dabbled in this area with the fall 2012 debut of Facebook Gifts (built on top of former social gifting startup Karma). The service is meant to tie into one of Facebook’s most regular draws — its birthday reminders. The idea is that users could visit the site, and in addition to wishing their friend “happy birthday,” they could also add a gift to accompany that message. The social network offers gifts like iTunes digital Gift Cards and physical goods, and it even launched its own self-branded “Facebook Card” earlier this year.

However, even with Facebook’s broad reach, its Gifts service has been struggling to generate serious revenue, and certainly falling short of earlier projections and estimations regarding its potential. Meanwhile, some startups like Sincerely (with Sesame) and recently funded Wrapp, carry on in this space, while others head off in new directions. Giftly, for instance, exited to GiftCards.com this March, while Boomerang has turned its focus to the B2B market instead in recent months.

That being said, Amazon still has a shot at winning the social gifting space with its new Amazon Birthday Gift feature, since it can be argued that users don’t associate Facebook’s brand with spending or shopping the way they do with Amazon. (See also: various f-commerce struggles). Plus, Amazon’s cards are the go-to for the “generic” gift option, which people buy when they don’t know what to get, or when they need something last minute.

Start or Join an Amazon Birthday Gift

However, the new service is still limited today to smaller gift amounts ($1, $5, $10 and $25), which can be a challenge for those attempting to raise funds for a larger present like an electronics purchase. Plus, being tied only to birthdays eliminates the big holiday, graduation or wedding presents users may want to go in on together. Often these larger presents are led by a close family member or friend who puts in a big chunk of change, to which others pile on. Not supporting these other types of gifting narrows the already potentially narrow market for digital, social gifting even further.

Amazon Birthday Gift is live now here for interested users.