March 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Amazon meets up with Facebook to bring its e-commerce to a social network

Facebook has a new friend—one with lots of e-commerce connections. The social networking site is working with technology from Amazon.com that makes it easier for Facebook participants to decide what to buy their friends and link to Amazon to find and purchase something.

Facebook has a new friend-a big one with lots of e-commerce connections.

The social networking site-with 34 million unique visitors in January, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.-now works with technology from Amazon.com Inc. that makes it easier for Facebook participants to decide what to buy their friends and link to Amazon.com to find and purchase that digital camera or red sweater that suits a friend’s fancy.

The Amazon Giver application, which Amazon developed for Facebook, allows users to view friends’ virtual wish lists and link to Amazon.com to purchase gifts.

After deciding on a gift, users can link directly to Amazon.com, complete the purchase and ship it to the friend through the friend’s stored Amazon.com address. Users who add the applications must register an account with Amazon-a process that requires entering an address.

Amazon has also developed for Facebook Amazon Grapevine, which lets a Facebook member know when their friends have completed an activity on Amazon.com. For example, Facebook members see when their friends have written new product reviews or added items to their wish lists. The Grapevine application posts updates of such activity to members’ Facebook News Feeds.

Both applications share information only with friends that the Facebook user selects when adding the application to a personal page. Facebook recently backtracked on a system that would have informed a Facebook user’s friends of his online purchases in the face of widespread criticism that the system violated users’ privacy.

50 more retailers

Amazon isn’t Facebook’s only e-commerce partner.

BSocial Networks Inc. has launched Market Lodge, a system designed for Facebook that enables the social network’s users to create miniature e-commerce stores on their personal Facebook pages. Market Lodge allows Facebook users to select from 1,100 products from 50 retailers items to sell in their own shops.

Facebook users get a 10% commission for every product they sell (deposited in personal PayPal accounts), bSocial Networks gets a 35% to 50% commission, and retailers get an outlet to sell products to the 50 million consumers on Facebook without having to advertise, says Sue Spielman, bSocial Networks co-founder.

Facebook users set up an account with Market Lodge and then design and manage their store via a dashboard. The process of setting up an account and doing an initial store design can take as little as five minutes, the company says.

BSocial Networks plans to expand its initial offering of 1,100 products to thousands of products. Current retailers include Aurora Nova Skin Care, Holistic Pet, Inner Waves Organics, Oona Sara Designs and White Swan. The company also plans to expand its Market Lodge offering, initially created using the Facebook application program interface, to other social networks.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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