Friday 28 September 2012

Facebook gets physical...via new gift service to sell real goods

According to the FT, Facebook has launched a gift-service that allows users to send novelty items to friends, via revenue-sharing agreements with its partner-retailers.

The Amazonian elephant in the room…
However, despite the advantage of background personal insight, Facebook missed a big retrospective-trick by failing to anticipate the need for physical location details and not requesting personal addresses when members’ originally registered with the social network. Furthermore, given Amazon’s 1-click innovator’s advantage, Facebook is condemned to forever playing catch-up to the online retailer’s speed, efficiency and database…

Fulfilment issues for trade-partners
Given that volume-gifting will be mainly low-priced novelty items, partner-retailers face the triple whammy of securing addresses, 'instant' shipping of low-value items and awaiting their share of revenue, in a world where fast single-step purchase is king…

For suppliers, the issue becomes one of being able to anticipate the volume and speed required should a novelty gift-item catch on big-time with the Facebook community (for openers, think hundreds of millions…fast!).

Overall assessment
Better for Facebook to revert to virtual, and find digital gifting-options that meet the same needs…(or even partnering Amazon…). This could represent a real opportunity for service-suppliers to evolve ways of digitising their offering via Facebook (i.e. ‘Have a Guinness on me for your birthday!’ NB. an example only…nothing beats the real cash-based shared-experience !)

(but meanwhile, no harm in Facebook seeking ways of harvesting physical addresses from their vast connected-community, just-in-case…)

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