retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times this morning reports that Facebook is creating a new "Gifts" service that allows users "to buy presents for their friends on the social network. On offer are items as varied as spices from Dean & DeLuca, pajamas from BabyGap and subscriptions to Hulu Plus, the video service. This week Facebook added iTunes gift cards."

As the story notes, "The gift service is part of an aggressive moneymaking push aimed at pleasing Facebook’s investors after the company’s dismal stock market debut. Facebook has stepped up mobile advertising and is starting to customize the marketing messages it shows to users based on their Web browsing outside Facebook."
KC's View:
The Times correctly points out that Facebook already has birthdays and anniversaries on file, and now wants to use the "Gifts" initiative to get people to also share their credit card numbers ... thinking that if they can put the two together, the result could be a financial bonanza.

I, for one, would be a little leery about signing up for this. I can just imagine that, if I got into the system, I'd suddenly start getting sales pitches for why I should send birthday presents to everyone who is a friend of mine or MNB on Facebook; I love you all, but I really can't afford that. And the deluge of email would be annoying.

But the basic impulse is correct, and plays into something we've been talking about here for a long time ... that it will be the companies that have the most information and act appropriately on that information that are the likely winners in the long term competitive wars.

Having such information, and acting on it, should be part of every retailer's strategic plan.