Why Like, Share Or Poke When You Can Gift?

What's Next In Payments®
7:45 PM EDT December 15th, 2012

The days of showing Facebook affection for a friend or lover via a poke may very well be over.

After months of beta testing and limited availability, the social networking giant finally made its Gifts features available to all U.S. users last week. PYMNTS.com decided to test out the app to determine if you should get in the giving spirit through Facebook this holiday season.

I reviewed Facebook’s Gifts feature using its updated mobile app for Android and was pleased with the overall speed and fluidity with which I was able to browse, give and pay. Facebook has had some notorious issues with its Android-based app before, so it exceeded expectations here.

Deciding to “gift” someone is, as the title suggests, just as simple as liking a post or poking a friend. Click on a friend’s profile, and next to the “friends” and “message” buttons, you’ll find “gift.” Select it, and you’re automatically brought to a listing of potential present options.

The selection of gifts skewed heavily in the favor of chocolate or candy treats. Plenty of offers for truffles and pralines, chocolate-covered berries and various hard candies sprung up, as did many iterations of holiday-themed cookies.

Side note: several gourmet fish options, including “Wild Caught Mexican Shrimp” for $75, “Fresh Australian Lobster Tails” for $300 and “Prized Snow Crab” for $150. Perhaps this truly does appeal to some people, but the question must be asked: who really wants to buy fish from Facebook? Doesn’t really seem to fit given the average Facebook user’s demographic.

Regardless, Facebook deserves props for the aesthetics involved in the gift selecting process. Large thumbnails with a picture and brief description of the item appear on screen in two columns of three selections each, and there were a few dozen options overall.

Avoiding any potential fish follies, I opted to go with a $5 Starbucks e-gift card, which I bought so that I could view the gifting process in its entirety without needing to wait for shipping. That the card was also the cheapest item available is pure coincidence.

If you do opt to send a gift that requires shipping, the recipient chooses the address where they would like the gift delivered to after accepting.

After sending the gift, I was prompted to pay immediately. Standard caveats about entering information on a smartphone aside, the process was pretty simple, and after entering my card number, expiration date and CVV number, I was all set.

One note: the first time I entered my card information, after clicking “purchase,” I was given an “Internal Server 500 error,” and then went back to re-enter my information. The app had already saved my information, and while going through and re-selecting my expiration date, I received a conformation e-mail telling me my purchase had gone through.

For those of you who are leery about storing your payments information on Facebook – and I include myself in this group – be warned that the app does automatically save your card information once you make a purchase. To Facebook’s credit, this is clearly explained to you when you check out, and instructions for removing the saved info are also provided (you can do so under account settings).

When you gift someone, you’re presented with the option to post on their timeline or to send without quite as much pomp and circumstance. I wanted others to know I was in the giving mood, so I opted for the more public option, and found that one cute gimmick Facebook employed was “wrapping” my gift on the recipient’s wall. Once the beneficiary of my generosity opened the gift, I received a notification, and the gift appeared “unwrapped” on the wall.

Facebook Gifts doesn’t stand to poise a threat to any major eCommerce sites right now thanks to a limited selection of gifts, but it’s easy to see how Facebook could become a factor by expanding this feature in the long run.

Overall, I found Gifts to be a fun, cute and easy app feature to use, and if you’re looking to send a small last-minute gift to a friend or relative this holiday season, I suggest you give it a try.

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