Twitter Confirms Its ‘Buy’ Button Is Real

fb twit buyFacebook and Twitter are keen to build more commerce functionality into the social stream.

Earlier this summer Facebook began working with select commerce brands to support direct transactions on its platform, and Twitter has been expected to produce something similar after sharp-eyed users spotted a semi-functional “buy” button on the site in July. Well, now that other shoe has dropped as Twitter confirmed experiments in letting users transact directly from a tweet.

Initially visible to a small percentage of users and retailers in the United States, the feature will gradually roll out to more people and merchants. The first commerce partners include a few retailers like Home Depot, and musicians like Ryan Adams and Pharrell. (More in the company blog post.) Celebrities may be a natural fit considering how many use Twitter to communicate directly with fans about event tickets, album releases and the like.

Integrating commerce is about more than adding a new user feature, or creating a new sales channel for retailers; it’s about gaining access to purchase and intent data, as Chris Copeland, CEO of GroupM Next, told AdExchanger in July when word of Twitter’s buy button first leaked.

“Where it gets interesting is when you start to have purchase data and behavior data together,” Copeland said.  “Using historical data, commerce data, credit data as well as your behavior to give you things more relevant to your patterns.”


Twitter has winnowed the transaction process to a few steps. After tapping “buy” in a promoted or organic tweet, the user sees product details and is prompted to enter shipping and credit card info, which is then transmitted on to the merchant. The hope is that in the mobile era, the key to commerce success lies in eliminating friction from the transaction process – something Amazon has proven through one-click buying and seamless app experiences.

But social media “buy” buttons may have more in common with Google’s Product Listing Ads than they do with Amazon’s buying interface.

Unlike Amazon, Twitter (and Facebook too) must help retailers connect with users. (Recording artists selling to their existing advertisers through organic tweets is a great feature, and a much lower bar.) The targeting Twitter makes available through its self-serve interface will be essential to conversion rates for these calls to action. As the company’s own CFO,  Anthony Noto, said in a Sept. 3 interview at the Citi Global Technology conference, the company has yet to reach a critical  mass of advertisers with these opportunities.

“Some of the other companies that have been really successful in launching self-serve have been able to generate relationships with a million-plus advertisers,” Noto said, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript. “We are not near that level yet and so we think we have a lot of upside.”

Among Twitter’s initial commerce platform partners are social shopping app Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday and Stripe. Previously the company completed an integration Amazon allowing customers to add products to their shopping card using an #AmazonCart hashtag.

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