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It looks like Facebook could be attempting a further push into e-commerce with the reported creation of a new feature which will allow users create wish lists of home furnishings, clothing and other retail products.

The new Collections feature enables retailers to put 'want' and 'collect' buttons on their pictures, which can be clicked by users to create a wish list on their personal profiles. 

The buttons are still in beta testing at the moment and will only be rolled out to the US initially, but if they prove successful there is no doubt they will be available for Australian retailers too.

What will it change?

Currently, retailers are able to create photo albums on their business page to showcase their products and they can also post links to products that direct people back to their websites.

When the new Collections feature is released, retailers will be able to create a visual catalogue of their products, and a ‘want’ and ‘collect’ button will accompany each picture. Users can then click these buttons (much like the Repin feature on Pinterest) to create personal wish lists of things they want. If a user clicks ‘collect’ they will be taken to the retailers website so that they can purchase it.

Facebook has said they will not receive a fee when someone purchases a wish list item via a retailer’s site, meaning the feature will be free, but if it becomes successful it will no doubt encourage retailers to increase their paid advertising on the social media site. 

What is the potential?  

want-button

Collections has huge potential for retailers in terms of reaching a wide audience, especially given the fact that Facebook celebrated the achievement of reaching 1 billion active users just this month.

Interestingly though, earlier this year many retailers said that while Facebook was a great place to engage directly with consumers and build relationships, it wasn’t where users preferred to shop. 

US users of the site already have access to a Gift feature, which allows people to shop for gifts for their friend’s birthdays, and many are saying that this is just another attempt on Facebook’s part to move into the world of e-commerce. 

How will the new feature benefit retailers?

collect-button-640x440

Obviously until the feature is rolled out it is hard to say just how it will profit retailers, but here are three ways that the new feature could be beneficial to retailers. 

  1. Better targeting of users. We all know online users want specials and that they don’t want to pay face value for items. Knowing which uses have clicked that they “want” something could potentially be an opportunity for retailers to better target users when a sale or promotion is announced, or when new products are released. 

  2. Data collection. Knowing specifically which consumers clicked ‘want’ will allow retailers to collect even more data surrounding their customers and their products. They will be able to consider purchase patterns and demographics, as well as see which products received a favourable reception and which flopped.

  3. New consumers. The new Collections feature seems like it will be the perfect opportunity for retailers to expand their current fan base. Once a person clicks the ‘want’ button the item will appear on their Timeline, thereby reaching even more people than previously. 

(image credit: socialfresh.com)

Claire Brinkley

Published 21 October, 2012 by Claire Brinkley

Claire Brinkley is Econsultancy Australia's news and insight reporter. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ or connect with her on LinkedIn

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