With The New Buy Button, Will Twitter Become An Effective E-Commerce Tool?

Chris CrumeCommerce

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Everyone is trying to figure out mobile commerce, and the big news is that Twitter just unveiled its role in that - a new Buy button, which will enable users to buy goods and services right from tweets. Twitter joins Facebook and Pinterest, who are both trying some new social media-based approaches. Which one will be the most successful? Regardless of that, businesses are soon going to have some new great opportunities to make sales.

Do you think Twitter's "buy" button is going to have a major impact on consumers buying products from their mobile devices? Do you intend to make use of it as it becomes available? Let us know in the comments.

Last month, Twitter was said to be readying the launch of its much-anticipated "buy" button, and on Monday, the company made the official announcement. Granted, it's still just a test at this point.

Twitter says it's testing a way for users to discover and buy products on its service, and that for now, only a small percentage of users in the U.S will see tweets with a "buy" button from select Twitter partners. The feature will let users buy things directly from a tweet.

"This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun," says group product manager Tarun Jain. "Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales."

"In our test, an entire purchase can be completed in just a few taps," Jain says. "After tapping the 'Buy' button, you will get additional product details and be prompted to enter your shipping and payment information. Once that’s entered and confirmed, your order information is sent to the merchant for delivery."

Twitter says the number of users with access to the feature will grow over time, even in the testing stage apparently.

Twitter's current platform partners include Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday, and Stripe. Brand partners include: Beartooth, Brad Paisley, Burberry, Dan+Shay, Death From Above 1979, Demi Lovato, DonorsChoose, Eminem, GLAAD, GLIDE, Global Citizen, The Home Depot, Hunter Hayes, Kiesza, Keith Urban, The Nature Conservancy, Megadeth, Mike Stud, Panic! At The Disco ,Pharrell, Paramore, (RED), Ryan Adams, Soundgarden, The New Pornographers, Twenty One Pilots, Wiz Khalifa, and 9/11 Day.

Twitter notes that users' payment and shipping info is encrypted and "safely stored" after the first transaction. This means that after the first time you use the buy button, you won't have to keep entering in your info. You can remove the info from your account if you choose.

Once you're set up to use Twitter to buy stuff, the process of doing so should be very easy. After that, it's a matter of seeing the tweets that are offering things you want to buy. This is going to be a major incentive for businesses to use Promoted Tweets.

Facebook is also testing a buy button with similar functionality, but Facebook's system for delivering content to users is quite different. In the end, however, strategies might not be so different after all.

By reducing Pages' organic reach in the News Feed, Facebook has essentially made the game of visibility one of pay-to-play. When you're trying to get people to buy things from Facebook posts, you're almost certainly going to have to sponsor your posts.

Twitter, on the other hand, enables accounts to get their tweets in front of every single follower. They don't algorithmically filter the timeline - at least not yet. It's looking like that will change in the future, much to the chagrin of users, but while Twitter currently doesn't filter things, very little content is actually being seen by a Twitter account's entire audience as it is.

Twitter recently made organic tweet analytics available to everyone, and it put the spotlight on just how much reach most tweets are actually getting, and it's not much. Ultimately, Twitter visibility is a pay-to-play game as well, and will probably be even more so going forward.

Facebook already has a lot of great targeting options, and Twitter is getting better, but recent research has shown that email marketing is driving mobile purchases much more than social media so far. People responding to email marketing and people going directly to e-commerce sites saw the highest share of purchases from phones, according to a recent report from Custora. It will be interesting to see if the emerging "buy" features from the popular social networks change that landscape.

Do you see Twitter becoming an effective e-commerce tool for businesses? Do you expect many people to use it for buying? How will it stack up to Facebook? Email? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Images via Twitter, Facebook

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.