December 19, 2012, 3:15 PM

Facebook starts a second test of Collections

The feature enables retailers to present groups of products.

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Facebook Inc. today began what it calls a “second phase” of its test of Collections, a tool meant to help retailers better present their products to consumers via the social network. Facebook in October said it had ended its initial test of Collections after less than a month.

The tool enabled retailers to organize products into a Collection. Facebook users who were fans of a retailer or brand could then receive notes in their news feeds—the first page seen by Facebook users—that would reference those products—for instance, “Neiman Marcus created a new collection: Borrowed From The Boys.”

In the initial test, Facebook gave consumers who viewed a Collection the chance to use a single button with one of three verbs—Want, Collect or Like—to organize items into their timelines, which function as virtual scrapbooks that mark consumers’ histories on the social network. A spokeswoman for Facebook says the new test will include five actions that consumers can take:  Want, Save, Add, Collect and Wishlist. She says that a consumer will see only one action based on her test group.

“The goal of this test is to understand how people are interacting with and sharing items from a Collection in their news feeds,” she says. “With this test, people will be able to engage with these Collections in the news feed and share things they are interested in with their friends. When someone adds an item to their Wishlist collection, it will create a story that their friends can see and will also be placed on their timeline so they can find it later.”

She adds that consumers can then click through and buy the products from retail sites, off Facebook.

Retailers taking part in the test include: Macy’s Inc., No. 14 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; Nordstrom Inc., No. 31; Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teens;  West Elm; Michael Kors; Fab.com, No. 449; Belk Ecommerce LLC, No. 221; Etsy; Old Navy; Mark & Graham; and Wayfair.com, No. 50.

The spokeswoman did not say when the test would end.

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