October 26, 2012, 12:23 PM

Facebook puts Collections on the shelf

The e-commerce-focused feature enabled shoppers to show their interest in products. 

Lead Photo

Facebook Inc. is putting Collections, the Pinterest-like e-commerce-focused feature it launched earlier this month, on the shelf. At least for now.

“We have completed our initial test of Collections and are now analyzing the data to inform product development,” says a spokeswoman for the social network. “For many of the product tests we do, we periodically pause the test to assess how to best progress with the product's rollout.”

Facebook launched Collections as a new way for retailers to present their products to Facebook users.

The tool enabled retailers to organize their products into a Collection. Facebook then shared that information with many of the brand’s fans in their news feeds via a note, such as “Neiman Marcus created a new collection: Borrowed From The Boys.” The news feed is the first page a consumer sees when logging on to the social network.

In testing the feature, Facebook presented consumers who viewed a Collection with a single button, labeled Want, Collect or Like, that shoppers could click to organize those items on the social network. Regardless of the button that appeared, when a shopper clicked the button, a pop-up opened with the question, “Why are you collecting this?” The shopper could then enter an answer, such as “I want to wear this to a party,” and place the item in a particular section of her Collections, which appeared on her timeline. The timeline is a virtual scrapbook that features a graphical and chronological log of a consumer’s life events and other information or posts that she chooses to share, such as photos. Facebook offered suggestions for sections, such as “wishlist,” “fashion” or “for the home,” or the shopper could click to create a new one.

The social network worked with several large e-commerce players to test Collections, including Pottery Barn, Victoria’s Secret and Neiman Marcus. Pottery Barn is owned by Williams-Sonoma Inc., No. 24 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Victoria’s Secret is owned by Limited Brands, No. 19; and The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. is No. 41.

Facebook is testing which of the three verbs on the buttons—Want, Collect or Like—spurred the most consumers to act, to determine which ones to use if it relaunches the feature. Facebook also says that if Collections reappears in the future, it will have broader mobile functionality and other unspecified enhancements.

Facebook did not charge retailers to post Collections and did not take a share of sales generated by the feature.

Many analysts saw Collections as Facebook’s attempt to combat Pinterest’s increasing e-commerce influence. Several reports have suggested that Pinterest is better at driving purchases than Facebook. For instance, a recent study by Bizrate Insights found that 69% of online consumers active on both social networks have found an item they’ve purchased or wanted to purchase on Pinterest, compared to 40% on Facebook. Moreover, 70% said that they turn to Pinterest for inspiration on what to buy, compared to 17% for Facebook.

On Pinterest.com consumers can share or “pin” items, such as a particular vase from Fab.com. Pinterest users often add a brief description or caption that appears below an image of the pinned item, such as “This would look great in my living room.” Those pins are gathered together on a board, which brands and users can organize around a particular theme, say, “For the home,” and share with friends.

Pinterest last month cracked web measurement firm comScore Inc.’s list of the top 50 most-visited web sites, with 25.3 million U.S. unique visitors in September. Facebook last month had 150.3 million U.S. unique visitors.

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