When Facebook reminds me that it's my best friend's birthday, I try to post the nicest message on her page. Because it's too late to send a birthday card, I message my birthday wishes, noting that I'll treat her to lunch and bring my gift then. What I'd rather do-other than have the insight to mail her the perfect card and gift that I bought in an actual store-is virtually take my best friend to her favorite online retail store, let her choose exactly what she wants, and pay for it.
Give.it, which launched last week, is here to help with just that. "Many web stores don't offer the possibility to buy products for someone else. And if they do, it's quite a hassle. To begin with, you need to know the recipient's home address," says Erwin van Kralingen, co-founder and CEO of the Amsterdam-based B2B ecommerce company offering the embeddable gift solution for online merchants. "In our research, we also found out that gift recipients often wanted a different size or color, or even a different product altogether. Give.it makes the gifting process easier. Once shoppers click on the button, they select the gift's recipient from their social media contacts. The recipient then gets notified about the gift through Twitter, Facebook, email or LinkedIn, and can fill out all the necessary details, thereby ensuring that the gift is delivered according to his or her wishes."
Receiving digital birthday cakes in 2011 from friends through Facebook started it all for van Kralingen. "Looking at that I thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to send a real product instead of a digital one?'"
The idea for Give.it followed in October 2012 when van Kralingen was working on his startup Kudoo, a Facebook app that made it possible to give real gifts to your friends. "We had 65 merchants selling products through Kudoo in the Netherlands," says van Kralingen. "Some of them asked me if we had a solution to implement our easy gift-giving process in their own web store as well. That's how the Give.it button came to life-a transaction model for buying things for your friends online."
Give.it not only makes it really easy and intuitive to surprise a friend with a gift. For merchants, Give.it facilitates more revenue from gift sales and helps them promote their products on social media in a fun and engaging way.
"We ran a promotion with Starbucks in the Netherlands. They did a product introduction through us, which was all about encouraging customers to give a free breakfast to a friend," van Kralingen says. "Within a couple of hours, thousands of breakfasts were given through Facebook. They received a lot of attention online. The redemption rate was more than 25 percent. This type of campaign proves that people are more likely to redeem a coupon or promotion when it comes from a friend-and friends are what social media is all about."
Once you click on the Give.it button, a handy widget appears on your screen. The widget lets you select a gift recipient through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (coming to Google+ soon), and add a nice message. You pay safely through PayPal (more options to come), and the receiver gets notified about the gift through email or the social network of your choice. The recipient clicks on a link and fills in address details. If there are more options offered by the merchant, such as different sizes and colors, the recipient can specify these as well. Once the recipient accepts the gift, the giver gets charged and notified, and the merchant gets paid immediately. After this, the merchant receives all the necessary order information and can proceed with shipping.
"What sets Give.it apart from other gifting apps is that we offer a B2B gifting solution for merchants," van Kralingen says. "Give.it is at the heart of where ecommerce is taking place-merchants' own web stores. We want to become the gifting standard for the web."
Give.it has made plugins for several major ecommerce platforms such as Magento, Prestashop, Shopify and Big Cartel, making it really easy for merchants to install and customize the Give.it button. In the next couple of years, van Kralingen expects tens of thousands of merchants to join Give.it, turning the web into a gift store.
Social Startups is a weekly Social Media Today column written by Shay Moser about the newest and most innovative social companies. Look for the next installment next Wednesday morning. Logos by Jesse Wells.