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Facebook rolling out new 'Collections' retail trial featuring 'Want' button

Facebook yesterday confirmed what has been speculated for months — that the social networking giant is actively trying out additions to its arsenal of business-friendly interactive tools for users, including a so-called 'Want' button.

According a statement issued by the company, Facebook is engaging in a "small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections."

Retailers involved in the programme include US homeware chain Pottery Barn - though to be planning entry into the UK in the future - as well as Victoria's Secret and Michael Kors.

Facebook's 'Collections' test comprises "three actions being tested separately," the company said, naming them as 'Want,' 'Like,' and 'Collect.' The social network's 'Like' button is already famous, of course, while hints of an upcoming 'Want' button were first detected back in June, contained in code within the Facebook Javascript SDK that pointed to the development of such a feature and even the ability to render the button.

The 'Collections' feature won't be a social plug-in or available outside of the Facebook site for now, the company said, but it will be viewable by Facebook users on their News Feeds.

Basically, in addition to liking product content tagged by the participating retailers as part of the 'Collections' test, users will also be able to identify themselves as wanting a product in a vendor's 'Collection', or being in the process of collecting it.

Those notes will be visible to users' friends on their Timelines and there will be a 'Buy' link for each product in a 'Collection' that links to the appropriate off-site purchasing portal, Facebook said.

The company said it is "creating three distinct groups of users to test each action," referring to the respective variants of the 'Collections' test.

At last year's F8 developer conference, Facebook dropped some hints that its 'Like' button would be morphing into a series of more specific descriptions of how a user interacts with content and media on the site and elsewhere, for example including an option for a user to mark down that they had listened to a song.

There was some talk at the time of the addition of a 'Want' button for products, but more speculation centred around different variations of how a user might be able to signify that they'd consumed media.