Facebook’s experimental “Collections” feature, where users can collect items or declare that they “want” them, is essentially an image-based shopping search engine.
That should be driving Google and Amazon bananas, since this is a big foray into those Internet giants’ territory.
Instead of typing in a search query, users can simply visit a friend’s profile and click on the Wishlist or Products section to browse for products they may be interested in.
Users can also visit a retailer’s Collections page to browse through products.
Facebook is clearly taking some smart practices from Pinterest. But thinking of this as a “Pinterest killer” is wrong. What Facebook is really gunning for is the e-commerce market and the vast portion of advertising that’s based around generating demand and converting that demand into transactions.
Right now, Google and Amazon are fighting for that market. Commercial search is Google’s lifeblood.
Will Young, director of Zappos Labs, said last month that Pinterest doesn’t do much for its sales, noting that while Pinterest users are more likely to share a purchase than Twitter or Facebook users, those shared items generate less revenue than shared items on Facebook and Twitter. (Other studies have drawn different conclusions, which just points to how up in the air this market is.)
Even though people share purchases less often on Facebook than Pinterest, Facebook has two significant advantages for businesses: a much larger user base and social context—you’re not looking at items selected by strangers, you’re looking at items chosen by your friends.
Facebook just reported it crossed a billion active users, while Pinterest has an estimated 23 million users.
Brands have taken to Pinterest, though, because it’s so easy to browse through items and they’re displayed in a pleasing, image-focused format.
The Collections feature is currently available to everyone, but Facebook is currently only experimenting with seven retailers, including Pottery Barn, Fab.com, and Neiman Marcus.