The Facebook Gift Store made its appearance about a year ago. The purpose was to enable Facebook to generate some revenue that wasn’t primarily based on ads.
I think the idea was that people would notice the reminders that Facebook generates to inform people that a friend’s birthday is coming up. Of course, they would want to send that person a gift, right? What could be easier than picking out a gift from the Facebook Gift Store? You could pick out a physical gift (a teddy bear, for example) and have Facebook ship it to that friend’s home or office.
It seems that things didn’t go as Facebook might have hoped. AllThingsD noted that more than 80% of the gifts that were sent on Facebook were digital, not physical. In other words, people were much more likely to send a friend a digital gift (instead of a physical one).
As such, Facebook is shifting away from giving people the option to purchase physical gift items from the Facebook Gift Store. Instead, people can send digital gifts from a variety of Facebook’s retail partners. It appears that Starbucks, Apple’s iTunes, and Target are among the options. This change is being rolled out to Facebook users this weekend.
Another change involves how those digital gifts are distributed and accessed. Some will still be through digital codes. It also seems that people will be required to use the Facebook Card in order to redeem some digital gifts that a friend sent to them through the Facebook Gift Store. According to AllThingsD, it seems that the Facebook Card lets you add a specific amount of money for a particular store. Once money has been earmarked for one store, you cannot use it at any of the other stores that Facebook is involved with.