Facebook recruits retail partners for big Gifts holiday push

Facebook (s fb) unveiled a slew of new big-name partners Thursday for its Gifts service, as part of a major expansion of Gifts to millions of users in the US. The new partners, introduced at a New York event, include Brookstone, Baby Gap (s gps), Dean & Deluca, Fab, L’Occitane and Lindt chocolate.

Facebook users can also send subscriptions to digital services like Pandora (s p), Rdio, Hulu Plus and make charitable donations to non-profits. And they’ll be able to send wine from Robert Mondavi Winery and Chandon in the coming weeks.

Facebook launched Gifts in September with 100 retail partners including Starbucks (s sbux) to a small subset of users, building off its acquisition earlier in the year of gifting service Karma. The service is now available to about 20 percent of Facebook users in the U.S. and will gradually roll out to all users.

The Gift feature allows users to buy real-world gifts for their friends. Facebook prompts users to consider buying a gift when their friend’s birthday or a big event comes up. Earlier this month, Facebook allowed mobile users to send gifts. 

Facebook GiftsThe new partners should make Gifts even more attractive. Right now, when you try to pick out a gift, Facebook recommends a bunch of stuff  and also gives you categories like food & drink, babies & kids and home & kitchen to choose from. But a lot of the gifts are products from smaller makers and brands. Getting some bigger brands and more familiar products in the mix might make it easier to get people to pull the trigger on a gift.

For the retail partners, the integration with Gifts gives them a chance to market themselves and pick up new customers. Fab CEO Jason Goldberg told me he’s not interested in the revenue from the partnership. He said he’s looking forward to the ability to spread awareness of Fab. The company plans on giving recipients a $5 gift card to buy their own Fab products.

Gifts represents a big commerce opportunity for Facebook. Since it knows a lot about what’s happening within your social network, it can push users to make targeted purchases throughout the year. Also, getting people to buy even one product allows Facebook to get a credit card on file, which could turn out to be important if Facebook builds out its own payment system.