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Social media meets commerce on eBay

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eBay has launched a new social commerce tool that it says will make it easier for groups of friends or family members to team up to buy a larger gift to mark a special occasion.

eBay Group Gifts, initially launched in Beta on eBay’s US site, links up with Facebook to allow a shopper to organise a group through social media that will share the costs of a larger fixed-price gift, with each paying their share through PayPal. Thus anyone, wherever they are in the world, could contribute to the gift.

The application is on eBay.com and is also an application on Facebook, where popular uses are expected to include the ability to crowdsource gift ideas.

Amit Menipaz, who led the eBay project, said: “eBay Group Gifts was designed to address a real-world need for people who want to join together to give a bigger and better gift for someone they care about. Through this innovative application we are defining the concept of group gifting online by leveraging deep integration with eBay, Paypal and Facebook to provide a simple and friendly solution that addresses every stage of the process, from gift selection and collecting money to inviting friends and physically delivering the gift on behalf of the group.”

Group Gifts is one of a number of social commerce tools currently being developed by eBay. Last week it unveiled a payment mechanism for digital purchases that allow people to make purchases through Facebook.

Our view: This application may currently be only on eBay’s US site, but it’s a development that will be of interest to UK retailers because it provides an early example of ways of moving into the still-emerging area linking social networking and ecommerce, social commerce.

On a very practical level it looks likely to encourage larger purchases and shows how social commerce could be potentially very profitable for many retailers.

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