Online fashion website Lastseason.com today launched a Facebook application which allows users to see and buy what a friend wants through their Lastseason.com wishlist.
Lastseason.com is the first UK business to develop a Facebook application with a specific e-commerce function.
The Lastseason.com wishlist displays images of clothes that a Facebook user likes. Friends can then click on an item and buy it as a gift.
Stefano Passantino says the application taps into the basic human psychology of "wanting to know your friends better, knowing what makes them tick, what they like and dislike".
"This is a really simple idea based on how people interact with each other," Mr Passantino said.
"Who hasn't been in a situation of wanting buy something for someone but not knowing what they like? The norm is to find a roundabout way of asking, or asking a mutual friend.
"The Lastseason.com wishlist shows you want your friends already have their eye on.
"It's a great example of how technology intersects with some aspect of human behaviour which then redefines the way that behaviour takes place - communication by texting is a good example.”
Facebook applications are little programs embedded within the site which users can use to do anything from quiz friends on their movie knowledge to play Scrabble.
But the applications to date do not have direct e-commerce applications - until now.
E-commerce commentators believe the emergence of a new e-commerce approach to applications is the precursor to a seamless integration of commerce and business into social network sites.
Amazon launched a wishlist application last week.
Denver-based bSocial Networks Inc also last week released Market Lodge 2.0 - an application that lets members customise and host their own stores within Facebook. These individualised Facebook stores can be created in five minutes, the company claims.
Nick Boardman, the CEO of Rock Computers PLC who is backing Lastseason.com with a £1m investment, says the use of Facebook applications for e-commerce is a potential goldmine.
"It's a new way of selling - a sales channel at no expense reaching 67 million facebook users," Mr Boardman said.
"We think this is the start of something big. Social network sites currently make their revenue from online advertising. Nobody has quite figured out how to make money from social network sites through third-party e-commerce applications until now. It's about expanding the trust inherent in social networks and converting this into the sale of actual products.
"The trick is to develop applications that link in with some with aspect of human behaviour. People need tools that solve problems for them. I think applications that serve no purpose other than to act as link to a third party vendor site will fail. They are just spam applications.
"The great thing with the Lastseason.com application is that it taps into how people behave at several levels. There's the idea of knowing what your friends like so it makes shopping for birthday and other presents easier, and then there's other quirks of the human condition like admiring someone so much that you want to dress like them and buy all the same clothes they buy. On reflection, this sounds quite frightening! But I think you get the basic idea how the Lastseason.com wishlist is useful for people."
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