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Earlier today, Twitter announced that a new ecommerce feature would be popping up in users’ feeds over the next few months. The social media platform said a “Buy” button will roll out via their mobile app to a small percentage of US users at first—and only if they follow the handful of introductory brands. Some of the first wave of  sellers include retailers Home Depot and Burberry; popular musicians Eminem, Pharrell, and Keith Urban; and nonprofits RED and The Nature Conservancy. Stripe is onboard as the payment gateway partner to handle the transactions.

When explaining why they decided to head in this direction, Twitter said “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.” But Twitter isn’t the only social site testing “Buy” buttons. Back in July, Facebook announced that it was testing similar functionality on its platform. The social networking giant was a little more tight-lipped about the details, however, and didn’t disclose primary partners or merchants.

While I haven’t been lucky enough to see the Buy button in the wild, the blog post makes the process seem relatively frictionless. Users see a Twitter product card show up in their feed. After tapping the “Buy” button, the user gets an overlay with more specific product information and a prompt to enter payment and shipping information. Once confirmation, the order gets sent to the merchant for fulfillment and delivery. (To see it in action, check out the video at the bottom of the page.) After their first purchase, payment and shipping information will be encrypted and stored, making all future purchases even easier.

The “Buy” button is extremely exciting news for merchants and consumers. First, this turns social media into a viable ecommerce platform. It targets consumers where they hang out with their friends—and the best thing is that they don’t ever have to leave the social network to make a purchase. It virtually eliminates any obstacle to conversion because the purchasing experience is completely contained. Since the potential purchasers are already fans of the merchant, they are more inclined to buy. Plus, if Twitter lets fans retweet their new product, it really harnesses the power of social media to increase virality and potentially boost the product’s initial reach.

Second, while mobile is now the primary way consumers shop, roughly only 25% of purchases happen via mobile devices. Twitter has always been mobile first, and they’re rolling this out through their mobile app. Will this help increase those mobile conversion rates?

I don’t foresee social “Buy” buttons replacing a store’s primary website. In fact, if a merchant constantly Tweets or posts their full catalog, it may chase away consumers. Rather, I think this will be particularly useful for limited-time or flash-sale offers.

For example, let’s say your product gets featured on a local morning news show (or Good Morning America, like Bigcommerce client Cookie Chips recently was). You could time your social post to go up right after your TV spot and take advantage of all the exposure. Or you could boost your holiday sales by having flash Twitter sales throughout the weekend.

While this functionality is still being tested, I don’t think it will be too long before we’ll see more and more partners and merchants jump onboard. It will be interesting to see how ecommerce platforms and shopping carts will integrate this type of experience into their offerings.

If this feature was available in your shopping cart, how would you use it? Will this be the silver bullet for conversion? Is it a new era for ecommerce? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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  • Rivka Freeman

    Yeah!!! Twitter BUY button for mobile phone users* makes it easier to use learn and purchase on smart phones.

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