Facebook is closing it’s Gift Shop on August 1st.
The blog post Facebook wrote about the closure makes this sounds like a sad day. And I suppose for the creators of the Facebook Gift Shop, it probably is. I never really saw the point in the Gift Shop. Why would I spend money to give somebody a little trinket to display on their profile? There was no obvious gain, no prestige built in. The closure of the Facebook Gift Shop is a good thing. But if Facebook sees what I see, we’re in for something bigger and better.
By now most people have heard about Facebook credits. It’s a way for people to use Facebook as a safe and secure monetary exchange for a variety of applications. You’ve also probably heard that Facebook is making its own attempts at geo-targeted services. By combining the two, I see yet another huge advantage for Facebook and for its users.
Let’s start out with Starbucks’ plans with their app and Facebook credits. They launched an app earlier this year that let’s users register their Starbucks card on Facebook. From there they are able to view their balance, load their card, etc. Starbucks has plans to also allow a user to top up the card of any of their friends that has also signed into the Facebook app. What a quick and easy way to sneak a gift card into someone’s wallet.
On the premise of giving real gifts, imagine a gift shop that is also tied into local services. One of your friends posted a status about how they’re having a horrible day and you want to cheer them up. You hop onto their profile, click the gifts button and up pops the gifts store… complete with a listing of local gift and candy shops that deliver. Or maybe your nephew is graduating from college, you’d like to get him something, but you live halfway across the country. Hop on Facebook, head to the gift store and pick out something you think he’d like… or send him some Facebook credits so he can go pick out his own present from the gift shop. He can also decide when and where the gift is delivered, but you’ve put the details into the order to be able to include a personalized message with whatever he picks out.
Maybe there are even ratings on the vendors in the gift shop to help you choose one that’s reputable if you aren’t from the area. Gift giving to anyone from anyone else they’re connected to without the concern of having your address or other personal details posted. There’s a lot of potential here to tie the offline world into our online connections. I’m curious to see if this is the direction they will indeed go.