Facebook introduces gift cards for offline purchases

By Lindsay Giles

Everyone has felt the pressure of picking out last minute gifts for friends and family members. This anxiety might be cured, however, with Facebook’s introduction of retail gift cards, available to purchase through your Facebook account.

The Facebook gift card can be used to purchase goods at Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora and Target.

Cards are purchased through Facebook’s gift feature that was released in September 2012.

Once the card is purchased, a Facebook message is sent to the receiver.

A traditional plastic gift card is then sent in the mail and can be used at any of the four vendors with which Facebook has been paired.

“This makes it so much easier to purchase last minute gifts for friends. I usually spend days running around and looking for that perfect gift. I can’t wait to try out this new feature” said junior Siena Pugnale.

Facebook is gradually introducing the product and it is currently only available in the U.S.

CBS Network defines the card as “multitasking” because one card can be used at any of the four retailers.

The sender chooses which retailers the gift card works at and how much money is gifted for each store.

In one gift, $5 could be placed for a smoothie at Jamba Juice while $20 is included for cosmetic purchases at Sephora.

“Each gift is a set value at a particular retailer chosen by the sender,” Facebook company representative told CNet Thursday.

The recipient cannot transfer the money from one retailer to another.

The Facebook gift card automatically updates in value as more gifts are received. A Facebook notification is sent when a user receives a new gift.

Users can check their balances online through their Facebook account.

Although card balances can be checked online and cards are purchased online, there is not yet a feature to redeem Facebook gift cards on mobile devices, which is common for many retailers such as Starbucks.

That being said, it won’t be long before this feature is added and Facebook users will be able to purchase gift cards using their phones and Facebook accounts.

Facebook started its gift option this past September that allows you to send gifts such as baked goods, cards, chocolates and gift baskets to your online friends.

There is still little information about the business details of the Facebook gift card agreement.

According to the LA times, Facebook has not revealed any information about its contract with the retailers.

There is no additional charge to the buyer or recipient of a Facebook gift card.

Leslie Meredith, author at Fox News reports that Facebook has not announced any plans to add more retailers to the gift card “Notably, gift participants Starbucks and iTunes are not yet included”.
There are a few negative feelings about the Facebook gift card. The LA times says that the card “may cause privacy issues” because in order to receive the card the recipient must be willing share their mailing address with Facebook.

USD students tend to agree with the issues surrounding the amount of information that Facebook requires to be sent into the company to buy a gift card.

“This is yet another way for Facebook to control the public and access personal information that many people do not want to provide” said junior Tenaya Miller.

Questions of the usefulness of the gift card feature have also been expressed.

Other gift cards through companies such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express can be used at multiple retailers with more flexibility in the amount spent at each seller.
CNN reported that 84 percent of Facebook’s revenue in its latest earnings report was from advertisements.

E-Commerce through social media is a resource that Facebook has just begun expanding and with Facebook’s over a billion users the company hopes that the gift card will generate more profit.
Although this feature has already been released, many people were unaware of this new advancement.

“Whenever I see my friend’s birthdays show up on Facebook, I wish I could send a present virtually without having to go out and shop for something. I had no idea technology was at the level where I could send virtual gift cards but I’m glad Facebook has created this” said junior Amanda Johnson.

Next time you’re in search of that perfect gift, you won’t even have to leave your computer. Facebook has made it possible to send gift cards to friends for bread sticks, smoothies, home goods, cosmetics and many more all through the click of a button.