Facebook has announced Gifts, which allows users to send physical gifts to their friends with the push of a button. Gifts can be purchased from the birthday reminder on the News Feed or directly on a friend's profile page. Gifts eliminates the need for having a friend's address, since the gift receiver fills out all the personal information once they receive a gift notification.
Gifts is the first sign of a real push towards greater monetization from Facebook, which has been consisting on mostly advertising funds and Open Graph partners. This announcement should also please investors, especially considering the disappointing initial public offering earlier this year. The IPO price for Facebook (FB) opened at $38 per share and now hovers around $20.
If users don't like a gift they've received, it can be exchanged for a different color, size, or a different item all together. This swap is done before an item even ships, eliminating the need for feigning delight or hassling with return shipping. Gifts can also be set as public or private, which will allow the both the giver and receiver to specify which friends are able to view the gift exchange.
Facebook gifts is not enabled yet, but should be available in the upcoming weeks. Gifts will range from $5 Starbucks gift cards to electronics that retail hundreds of dollars.
Because it's not available yet, we're left with a number of questions about Gifts. Will users be able to reject gifts or opt-out of being gifted this way? If a user enters her address into Facebook once, will she need to re-enter it for every gift she receives? Will gifting people through Facebook ruin the surprise of finding a package at your door?
We also don't know which retailers will be selling gifts through Facebook, but the company has put up a registration page for new partners.