Facebook Testing New Retail Features

Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), the social media company, has started testing a new retail-oriented feature it calls “Collections”. It allows retailers to include “Want” or “Collect” buttons on their news feed posts about products. Facebook users can then add these products to their Facebook page where a “Buy” button allows friends to go directly to the retailer, where they can buy the product and/or get more information. Or the user can just buy the product themselves and let their friends see what they are interested in.

Facebook is testing three different versions to see which is most effective.

The “Collect” button adds products to a “Products” section that visible only to friends. A special “Like” button also adds products to the “Products” section, but leaves them visible to friends and their friends. And the “Want” button places products on a user’s Timeline where thay are visible to friends and their friends.

Only seven retailers are so far involved: Pottery Barn, Fab.com, Victoria’s Secret, Wayfair, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus and Smith Optics.

At this point Facebook is not earning any direct revenues from this feature and there is no indication of the company’s plans in this area. But even without direct revenues, this feature could encourage retailers to place ads in an effort to generate more fans.

How will users react? Everyone understands that Facebook must aggressively try to increase revenues. But now users (except for gamers) who previously just logged on to share things with friends on a social basis are now increasingly being presented with opportunities to part with their money.

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