Facebook amps up commerce with 'Collections'

The social network will let users "collect" images of products that they can buy. Facebook isn't taking a cut -- yet.

Paul Sloan Former Editor
Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.
Paul Sloan
2 min read

Pottery Barn is one Facebook's test partners for 'Collections' Facebook

Facebook is stepping further into e-commerce with a feature that looks a whole lot like Pinterest.

The company today is rolling out "Collections," a feature that lets brands and e-commerce sites push out images of products among Facebook users who can then click-through to make a purchase -- although the buying part isn't yet taking place on Facebook. The feature is a new type of Facebook Page post.

A Pottery Barn image with the new 'Collect' feature Facebook

This test will begin with all U.S. Facebook members, although the company has for now teamed up with just seven retail partners. They include Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria's Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and Fab.com.

Here's how it works: If you're a "fan" of Pottery Barn, then Potter Barn product images will show up in your News Feed. But that image won't just be a static picture -- it will ask you if you want to "collect," "want" or "like" it. (Facebook is testing all three verbs). There's also a place to comment.

Each verb will have a different result. Anything you "collect" or "like" goes into a part of your Timeline called "products." If you click "want," the item will go to your Wishlist.

A Facebook spokeswoman said Collections is a logical step to helping brands spread their products.

We've seen that businesses often use Pages to share information about their products through photo albums. Today, we are beginning a small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections. Collections can be discovered in News Feed, and people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook.

Once you click on an item, it'll start to spread across Facebook. If you're a fan of the brand, and you "collect" the image, it will show up in your friends' News Feeds. If you "like" it or "want" it, the image will show up to friends of friends.

Most importantly -- at least from the business side of things -- is that if you "collect" a product, you can click through to buy it. For now, Facebook isn't charging brands, nor is it taking a cut of any transaction. But obviously that could change.