By Alexandra Burlacu | Nov 16, 2012 01:00 PM EST
Facebook made a big fuss in New York on Thursday, Nov. 15, announcing several new partnerships for its gifting service in time for the holidays.
The social networking giant used a press event at the FAO Schwartz in New York to announce the new retailers joining its Facebook Gifts service.
"Starting today, Facebook Gifts will include hundreds of gifts from new retail partners and will be available to more people on Facebook," reads the Nov. 15 announcement.
"Now you can say happy birthday, congratulate new parents, or wish a friend happy holidays with gifts from babyGap, Fab, Brookstone, Dean & Deluca, L'Occitane, Lindt, ProFlowers, Random House, Inc. and NARS Cosmetics. You can also gift TV shows and music with subscriptions to Hulu Plus, Pandora, Rdio and more."
The new gifts will be available in the United States within the next few weeks, Lee Linden, head of products for Gifts, told CNET. Facebook also said it will soon have wine available for sale in a few weeks, from Robert Mondavi Winery and Chandon Winery.
Moreover, Brookstone Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jim Speltz said the company will offer about 20 lower-priced gifts through the program, and it will likely offer a "handful" of premium products soon. Facebook users are more likely to be interested in tech and wellness products, as the social network's user base "is more forward thinking," explained Speltz.
Gifts now has hundreds of retailers selling thousands of gifts, emphasized Lee, and it's not just about making gifts during the holiday season. Lee wants people to use the service every day, and the social network even modified news feeds to highlight birthdays and such events particularly with this endeavor in mind.
"People use Facebook to connect...gifts is a natural extension, and we want to make it easier," said Lee.
Facebook launched its Gifts service at the end of September with about 100 partner merchants, allowing users to buy and send gifts off Timelines. Of course, Facebook gets a cut from the whole deal. Lee wouldn't say exactly what percentage Facebook gets for each sale, nor whether or not the company takes a percentage for its recently added charitable donation gifts.
In a bid to make its Gifts service more popular, Facebook recently added alerts for both Android and iOS devices, notifying users about friends' upcoming birthdays while conveniently serving up a link to Gifts.
The gifting project is still in its beginnings, but may signal that Facebook is now ready to make money from something other than advertising. The service's expansion is an important step forward, and the company said it plans to unveil more retail partners in the coming weeks.
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