When Facebook initially rolled out its Gifts shop in September 2012, it has enabled users to send tangible gifts to friends such as socks, cupcakes, stuffed animals, fresh flowers, teddy bears, and even a membership in the bacon-of-the-month-club. All of the gift items came from over 100 retail partners.
Last year, the company decided to stop selling physical goods and replaced them with gift cards. These gift cards are labeled accordingly such as popular, food & drink, shopping, entertainment, and charities. Some of the partner companies included Target, Starbucks, and the iTunes store of Apple.
It is obvious that the Gifts service wasn't really doing well for Facebook. This has caused the company to refocus in order to help the businesses gain higher sales. Rather than acting as a merchant, Facebook envisions itself as a sales platform. For this reason, the company has started adding "Buy" links under select ads.
"We'll be using everything we learned from Gifts to explore new ways to help businesses and developers drive sales on the Web, on mobile and directly on Facebook," said Facebook spokeswoman Tera Randall.
Many of the Gifts were considered as kitschy junk and failed to convince users to spend money on sending the gifts to friends. Another issue is the shipping location. While it is true that shipping is absolutely feasible in the US, Facebook failed to find a way in making their gifts available for international shipping.
Facebook must have tried several ways to keep their Gifts page alive. There was even a time when the company aggressively pushed users to buy small gifts for their friends instead of greeting them with the traditional and "free" HBD wall post.
Facebook also increased its gift card partnerships and launched its unique "Omni Gift Card." The latter is a refillable or loadable card which the user can use as credit. It features businesses such as Olive Garden and Target. The only drawback is that some of the businesses sound unfamiliar with the sales clerks.
The team behind Facebook Gifts, which includes Karma founder Lee Linden, would still be working with the company. They would continue working on a number of commerce-focused projects in the same platform and in the ads departments.
Though Facebook has already confirmed that it's discontinuing the Gifts service on August 12, users with outstanding gifts need not worry. The company assures them that they can still redeem the gifts even after the above-mentioned closing date.