In a surprising move, Facebook is rolling out a new commerce product: gift cards. What makes this move interesting is these preloaded cards will work with retailers in the real world. Initial launch partners are US only and include Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora and Target.
Facebook is targeting a multibillion-dollar business as it tries to regain the confidence of investors who continue to be worried about the company’s money-making potential. Investors are pinning their hopes on Facebook making a major play in commerce.
How the gift cards work: You send the cards to your friends through Facebook’s Gifts product. Once a card is purchased, your friend is alerted. A few days later, the friend receives a card in the mail. Users can keep track of the balance online. One card works with all of the retailers and can have multiple balances, say for bread sticks at Olive Garden or a box of diapers at Target. The balances can be monitored on Facebook mobile apps.
The program is being rolled out gradually, and right now it’s only in the U.S. But it’s not an experiment — this appears to be a program that Facebook is very sure about.