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Facebook Starts Selling

Posted on November 6, 2012 by HFN Staff

Facebook has launched two features that mark the website's first efforts at e-commerce.

The site debuted Facebook Gifts, which enables users to purchases gifts for friends for any occasion. Users can visit facebook.com/gifts, choose a gift, attach a card and send the gift. The item can be posted to the friend's timeline or sent privately, and that person can "unwrap" a preview of the gift. The item is then delivered to the friend a few days later.

Last month, Facebook launched a test of Facebook Collections in the United States only, a feature that allows retailers to share information about their products on Facebook. Available on the site's News Feed, the Facebook Collections test enables users to "like," "collect" or "want" products. The products within Collections also have a "buy" link, which sends users off the site to purchase a product from a participating retailer.

According to a Facebook spokeswoman, the test involves links to Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria's Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics and fab.com. "We've seen that businesses often use (Facebook) pages to share information about their products through photo albums," the spokeswoman said.

In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said Gifts represented "the beginnings of commerce on Facebook." Asked if the site would go deeper into retailing, Sandberg said, "We're working on a lot of things. The potential for almost anything on Facebook is really big because of our sheer size and scale, and because of what users are doing and how engaged they are on the site."