Ebay launched a Group Gifts service using Facebook’s application programming interface, aptly named for the ability to digitally pay for a present with contributions from more than one person.
Go to the group gifting page on eBay, and you see a button that can open the Facebook logon window, prompting the request for permission to access profile information, friend lists and their respective birthdays, among other data that might influence a group buying decision.
Group Gifting designates one person as the organizer who chooses the gift, and then invites others to contribute funds. I think version 2.0 ought to give you the option to invite friends first, and then make a group decision on the gift; offline, when we buy presents as a group, people often give suggestions about what to buy before coughing up any cash.
The next best thing to making a group decision on what to buy is looking at your intended recipient’s wish list on eBay, which you can certainly do right now using the current iteration of Group Gifts. And if your intended beneficiary doesn’t yet have a list on eBay, I suggest you look for it on other online retail sites, in addition to your friend’s profiles on social media and personals sites. It’s also helpful that the gifting service asks you the occasion for the gift, with a drop-down menu. Here’s another idea for version 2.0: Allow people to name their own occasion that isn’t on the list of choices.
For now, whoever initiates the group buy chooses the gift, then invites other would-be contributors and sets a deadline for contributing. No transaction goes through until enough people pony up money to meet the cost of the item.
If you have a sense of deja vu, perhaps you’re thinking of Facebook’s partnership with Amazon.com announced this summer, which enabled the ability to tap the social network for product recommendations. That integration doesn’t yet include group funding of gift purchases, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something to that effect became available in the very near future.
The group gifting service looks pretty cool and tempts me to start plotting acts of generosity toward the people nearest and dearest to me. I bet you’ll feel the same way after watching the explanatory video below: