Facebook is testing a new feature called “collections,” with a few well-known brands today that will let you buy products featured in enticing photos. But while Facebook calls it a “small test,” Collections, like the recently launched Facebook Gifts, gives us a look inside the company’s business mindset.
Collections isn’t just a facet of the photos feature, it’s a completely separate type of post that appears on a company’s Page. Users can look at these collections and can “want” a product, “collect” it, or like it, as per usual. Anything that is “collected” or “liked” is put into a new Timeline feature called “products.” It shows the things you admire but maybe aren’t ready to whip your wallet out for yet. If you “want” the item, it automatically goes into your “wishlist.” Collected items can also be put into your wishlist, as the screenshot above shows.
Even if the feature never fully rolls out, the test will inevitably help Facebook figure out how people interact with products and different kinds of actionable “likes” on the site. This is valuable information in a retail world bombarded by sites like Pinterest that show off products beautifully but don’t have a direct line to purchase. Facebook could take advantage of this by providing that line.
Facebook told VentureBeat in an email:
“We’ve seen that businesses often use Pages to share information about their products through photo albums. Today, we are beginning a small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections. Collections can be discovered in News Feed, and people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook.
Right now it doesn’t look like Facebook is sharing revenue with the brands, given that Facebook lets the businesses put in their own product links and purchases don’t happen on the network. But it looks like Facebook is thinking of physical goods as a potential supplement to its business model. The company recently introduced another physical goods-oriented product called “Gifts,” which does act as a revenue product for the company.
Gifts, unlike its predecessor, which allowed you to share little icons of things like a teddy bear or flowers, lets you send these items to a friend. You go to the gift store, pick out something you think is fitting for your friend, and share it with them. You can choose to pay for it before you share, or wait until they’ve formally accepted the gift and chosen a shipping address. Then the gift is sent, and Facebook makes a buck off your kindness.
hat tip All Facebook