Well, that didn’t last long.
Facebook is officially dropping physical goods from its Facebook Gifts program. Which is to say, Facebook is still keeping Gifts, it’s just switching over to gift cards and digital codes instead of flowers, stuffed animals, and cupcakes.
The reason for the switch is pretty simple. According to Facebook representatives, the social network noticed that a majority of those using Gifts – right around 80 percent – were purchasing gift cards via the service. Presumably to eliminate the overhead (and logistical headaches) associated with retail purchasing, Facebook has decided to abandon physical goods in favor of “adding more digital codes and making the Facebook Card redeemable at more merchants,” said a spokesman in an interview with CNET’s Jennifer Van Grove.
“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.”
Facebook’s also giving its Gifts store a bit of a redesign, and a subset of users should already be able to tap into the refresh right now as an early preview. The company plans to officially launch the new site next week for all Facebook users. Tweaks that users will see include the inclusion of new merchants offering up gift cards for purchase, as well as the introduction of gift cards that can be purchased in any amount users want between two set thresholds.
As for the Facebook Card, the service still remains a little complicated. When a user elects to gift a gift to a friend using the Facebook Card, the person – if they don’t have one already – receives a physical, Facebook-blue card in the mail with the gift balance built in. A balance, we note, that’s locked to the intended retailer. A person can’t just load up a Facebook Card with a set amount of cash and spend it at any retailer that accepts the card. And, yes, one card can hold multiple, varying gift balances for different retailers.
Confused? On the plus side, at least one can check the various balances on one’s Facebook Card via Facebook itself.
Facebook officially launched Gifts in September of last year with the hope that the service would be able to combine easy revenue with social appeal – giving users a way to contribute a little bit to Facebook’s bottom line while simultaneously tapping into the strength of the online social network to promote Gifts to others (as well as the retailer associated with individual gift purchases).
It hasn’t seemingly quite made that much of an overall impact on Facebook’s revenues, however. Facebook announced in January of this year that $5 million of the $256 million it made from Facebook-related payments came from non-game sources, including Gifts and promoted posts – the latter taking the lion’s share of that figure.
Facebook began expanding Gifts to international users in April of this year.
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