Digital Insights

Twitter Tests Buy “Now Button” e-Commerce Platform

Published: September 19, 2014

Twitter is offering social media users the opportunity to shop while they Tweet through its “Buy Now Button” shopping platform, currently being tested with a select group of brands and artists including Burberry, (RED), Keith Urban, and The Home Depot. If all goes well, Twitter is expected to roll out its e-commerce service in time for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Twitter’s new shopping venture will allow participating businesses to embed a “buy now” button in their Tweets, enabling users to purchase directly though the Twitter site. According to Twitter, the goal is to make shopping from a mobile device convenient, easy, and hopefully even fun. The product offerings are exclusive to Twitter users, and can be accessed from within Twitter apps that are available for both Android and iOS devices.

How Twitter’s “Buy Now Button” Works
The shopping platform allows a purchase to be made with a just a few taps. When purchasers tap the “Buy” button on the merchant’s Tweet, full product details will be displayed. Purchasers will then be prompted to enter payment and shipping details. A final tap confirms the order information, and the order is routed to the business for fulfillment.

All customer payment and shipping details are encrypted and stored so that future transactions can be made without the need for purchasers to re-enter all of their information. Buyers have the option at all times to have this private information removed from their account. All credit card transactions are secure and these details will not be shared with the seller without the purchaser’s permission.

Will Twitter’s “Buy Now Button” Succeed?
Only time will tell; Twitter has a history of experimenting with different products and platforms, and has not hesitated to bail out on these experiments when they failed to live up to expectations. That being said, the new “Buy Now Button” does have a couple of highly unique twists working in its favor:

  • The new e-commerce platform provides Twitter users with a safe and convenient way to purchase featured products that they can’t get anywhere else.
  • Participating merchants will have the opportunity to capitalize in a very real sense on the relationships that they have established with their followers.

According to spokesperson Nathan Hubbard, Twitter has no intention of expanding into a full-service online retailer. The idea behind the “Buy Now Button” is to leverage Twitter’s real-time communication advantage into an opportunity for users to acquire unique limited-edition and niche products.

The prevailing philosophy at Twitter is simple: if the “Buy Now Button” platform can help make Twitter more attractive to businesses while maintaining and growing its user base, the advertising revenue will follow.

Twitter’s entry into the e-commerce niche is seen by some as a response to rival Facebook’s efforts to incorporate a revamped shopping feature into its social media platform. One distinct advantage that Twitter has over the competition is its ready access to a core group of social media influencers with the power to drive significant sales if properly motivated. A merchant-sponsored affiliate program for these influencers could well provide the fuel that propels “Buy Now Button” sales into the stratosphere.