Need to buy a friend a birthday gift soon?
The online retailer released a new feature this week that allows a group of Facebook friends to collectively buy an Amazon.com gift card. Once logged in, Amazon users are prompted to link their account to their Facebook profile. That pulls up a page that lists all of an individual's friends, sorted by the days left until their birthday.
The user picks a friend and can seed the gift card with $1, $5, $10 or $25. Then, the user chooses his or her Facebook friends, inviting them to contribute. The combined total is delivered on the birthday. Amazon will credit $3 to users who buy and deliver three gift cards by July 21.
Although a growing number of people are turning to online gift cards, a survey last year by market research firm Market Strategies International found that 43% of consumers are either unlikely or highly unlikely to buy an online gift card for their next gift-card purchase. Most people said they preferred handing over the actual plastic in person. Consumers also expressed concerns about Internet safety and technical problems.
Amazon's new offerings could leverage the trust between friends to help convince some skeptics to try out the e-cards.
GiftCards.com lists a group-buying option on its website, but the Web service prints out the gift card and the greeting card and mails them to the recipient.
For regular items on Amazon, the start-up Aggregift lets people buy gifts as a group.
Does all of this mean fewer birthday presents in the end? Quite possibly. At least if you're not a fan of gift cards, you can sell them on Cardpool.
Watch Amazon's promo video for Amazon Birthday Gift below.