Facebook Set To Launch Group-Buying Prototype.

Group-buying is big business nowadays. More and more companies are trying to muscle on to the scene to steal some of the lucrative business popularised by Groupon and Living Social.

Even Google is dipping its toe in the waters: the recent launch of Google Offers only goes to show how highly prized this untapped local market is.

Never to be outdone, Facebook is currently looking into this market too. It’s currently testing its own application called ‘Buy with Friends’ which aims to replicate the principle of discount online buying. As yet the application only applies to virtual purchases, but if successful, it opens the door for Facebook to get its foot onto the local group-discount ladder.

Buy with Friends is essentially a very simple application. Any user can make an in-app purchase using Facebook’s own currency, Facebook Credits.

They then share this virtual purchase through their news feed. Any friend who subsequently sees this purchase can also buy the same item at the same discount. As it stands, the feature only works for certain in-game purchases. The application designers currently determine both the offers and the discounts.

The signs so far for Facebook have been encouraging. Head of Commerce Product Marketing, Den Liu, spoke at a Social Applications Conference earlier in the week and explained that during this testing phase, over half the users participating chose to share their offers with friends.

As previously mentioned, this application currently only applies to virtual goods. How long though, one wonders, before this is extended to physical goods? As increasing numbers of retailers set up shop online at Facebook, it surely can’t be beyond the realms of possibility that Facebook is viewing this application as its key to the door of discount group-buying.

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