When Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced on Tuesday (June 18) that it cut a social gifting deal with Facebook, it wanted to encourage participation and it prominently promoted a small lure: "Try it now and get $3," said the large wording on its Amazon Birthday Gift page.
Even though $3 is a rather paltry lure—what, Amazon couldn't afford a full $5 gift certificate?—it's not going to shoppers who "try it now." It's not even going to shoppers who "try it now and then try it again." Nope, to qualify, shopper "must purchase three or more gifts through Amazon Birthday Gift" and must complete all three "between 12:00 AM PDT on Monday, June 17 and 11:59 PM PDT on Sunday, July 21." That's a pretty big requirement. Amazon really wants to make its shoppers work hard for that $3.
And even if a shopper completes all three within the timeframe, Amazon doesn't want them recklessly blowing all of their $3 on some marketplace products. It can only be used on "physical products shipped from and sold by Amazon.com."
What exactly is the birthday program with Facebook? It's Amazon's version of the shared gift concept. An Amazon shopper—who has tied his/her account with their Facebook account—buys the birthday giftcard for a friend. That shopper can then privately send the card to anyone on their shared friends list and not so subtly hint that people can add cash to the giftcard. Then, on the recipient's birthday, the card with the group total appears in the recipient's account.
Beyond the obvious advantages to Amazon of encouraging lots of people to pour their gift dollars into Amazon-only gifts, the CRM benefits are huge. As Walmart (NYSE:WMT) discovered with its own Facebook social acquisition last year, the ability to connect the dots between shoppers is a goldmine. If Amazon can learn of the relationships between shoppers, it can sharply increase its gift suggestions and time them with birthdays, anniversaries and appropriate holidays. Knowing that Customer 47729 sends a Hanukkah gift to Customer 29930 and Customer 29930 sends one back, that gives Amazon free reign to promote Hanukkah-themed gifting to both customers forever. This certainly beats Amazon's Patent last year to guess religion based on which wrapping paper is chosen.