Facebook may be all about the ads, especially since its Credits business isn't exactly booming, but it hasn't stopped experimenting with different revenue streams. At one point, its virtual gifts store seemed like an interesting opportunity, but it shut it down more than two years ago.
Now, the gift shop is back around, but this time it's filled with actual, physical gifts rather than just funny GIFs for your friend's wall.
"Every day, millions of people share special moments with their friends on Facebook by saying 'Happy Birthday,' 'Congratulations,' or simply, 'I'm thinking of you.' Now there is another way to celebrate those moments," Facebook wrote.
"Starting today, you can give real gifts to your friends on Facebook using Gifts," it announced in a blog post late last week. "You can send gifts from birthday reminders, or from your friend's timeline," it explained.
Facebook hasn't completely given up on the virtual gifts idea, in a way, any gift you buy from the site also has a virtual component and will show up on the Timeline of whomever you're buying it for as soon as you purchase it.
The actual gift though may take a few days to arrive, needless to say. The feature is going to be available in the US first and even there it's getting a gradual rollout, a Facebook trademark.
There are several types of gifts to choose from, mostly of symbolic value. You can choose a Startbucks gift card, or a teddy bear, cupcakes or cookies and so on.
An interesting twist is that the recipient can customize the gift before it arrives, they can choose the color, size or flavor, depending on what the gift is. They can even exchange the gift for something else of the same value.
The original Gift shop was introduced back in 2007 and hung around until 2010. The new gift shop is an interesting twist on the concept, but it remains to be seen whether it proves more popular.