September 1, 2011, 11:47 AM

Givvy launches a Facebook social shopping application

The vendor is working with retailers such as Williams-Sonoma, Levenger and Newton Vineyard.

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Givvy Inc. today officially launched a Facebook social shopping application that enables consumers to recommend products via a Buy button on Givvy’s page on the social network that links to a merchant’s e-commerce site.

When a consumer lands on the page, he is presented with a gift shop curated by Facebook users. Among the retailers whose products are featured on Givvy’s Facebook storefront are home furnishings merchant Williams-Sonoma Inc., office supplies retailer Levenger.com, Newton Vineyard and Dwell Studio, which sells home décor items like a $500 “hand-tufted New Zealand wool rug.”

“Givvy represents the next evolution in social commerce by empowering people to build the first-ever user-generated shopping experience on Facebook,” says Claudio Miranda, founder and CEO of Givvy. Neither Facebook nor the participating retailers immediately returned calls for comment.

Among other recommended items are a $49.95 Zoku ice pop maker on Williams-Sonoma.com, a $400 Element wine cooler and coast set on NewtonVineyard.com, and a $49 Thai Pad silk-made iPad holder on Levenger.com.

Miranda, who prior to Givvy co-founded web-only floral gifts retailer Organic Bouquet Inc., No. 920 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, incorporated Givvy Inc. last October as a self-funded operation. The Givvy application was built in-house by the company’s chief technology officer, Larry Rubin, who had also built Socializr.com with Jonathan Abrams, the founder of social network Friendster.

The Givvy Facebook application, which is at http://apps.facebook.com/givvyapp, was built on the Facebook technology platform using the LAMP open source technology group (LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) and coded in the PHP scripting language, Miranda says. It also uses JavaScript, JQuery, Ajax, Cascading Style Sheets, HTML and iFrame technology for presenting web content on the application’s Facebook page.

The Givvy Facebook application pre-launched as a beta test in July, and currently has 40 participating consumers, or “curators,” who have recommended about 180 products linked to retail e-commerce sites, Miranda says. He was unable to give a total number of retail sites to which Givvy currently links.

Participating consumers who recommend products can earn points for every recommended product, and eventually they will also earn points for the number of times other consumers click Facebook Like or Share buttons related to product recommendations. For now, the value of the points is in social recognition, but eventually the points will have value toward offers from participating merchants, Miranda says. Givvy also plans to develop ways to pay a commission to consumers when their recommended products result in a sales transaction.

Givvy is also working to develop a referral fee system through which it will charge retailers a fee based on a percentage of sales transactions. It is in talks with an online gifts retailer to develop a cost-per-click referral fee system, Miranda says.

Williams-Sonoma is No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Levenger.com is No. 289.

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