Retailers Rejoice: Facebook Tests “Want” Button

In what could set the stage for an eventual venture into e-commerce and just in time for gift-giving season, Facebook is testing a feature with its American users that lets its users create “wish lists” of items like home furnishings, clothing, shoes and other retail products. The company announced that it is currently working with seven retailers to test the new feature, a business-friendly interactive tool that is a natural progression from the “like” button. Yesterday, the company rolled out the feature, dubbed “Collections,” enabling brands and e-commerce sites to push out images of products among Facebook users who can “collect” and share images, then click through to make a purchase. 

Retailers involved in the program include bigwigs Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and, the company said. Facebook’s Collections test comprises “three actions being tested separately,” the company said, citing the verbs as “Want,” “Like,” and “Collect” in the feature that reminds us a lot of Pinterest, with such actions visible to users’ friends on their Timelines. A Buy link for each product in a Collection will link to a place to buy it off-site. 

To break it down further: If you’re a “fan” of Victoria’s Secret, then Victoria’s Secret product images of the latest and greatest will show up in your News Feed, with the image asking if you want to “collect,” “want” or “like” it, with each action producing a different result. There’s also a place to comment. Anything you “collect” or “like” is designated to a part of your Timeline called “Products.” If you really happen to like it and need to have it, simply click “want” and the item will go to your Wishlist. The ultimate goal for retailers, if you “collect” a product, you can click through to buy it.

A Facebook spokeswoman said Collections is a logical step to helping brands spread information on their products; after all, once you click on an item, it’ll start to spread across the social network, showing up as a story on friends’ news feeds. Facebook’s “like” button has met quick fame, as companies increasingly measure consumer engagement by the number of “likes” on a certain image, status or link. 

The Collections feature could open up new sources of revenue for the company as it’s stock has suffered due to concerns over its long-term moneymaking prospects have grown. The feature could help Facebook to have a bigger influence on the online commerce market by encouraging its 1 billion users to buy products for their friends and by sending consumers directly to online stores. Facebook isn’t charging brands, nor is it taking a cut of any transaction. For now. 

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