A year after Twitter launched its first commerce product in the form of “buy now” buttons in tweets, get ready to start seeing a whole lot more of them in your feed.
The social media company today is expanding the service in partnership with Bigcommerce, Demandware, and Shopify, three big and well-used commerce platforms, so that merchants using them to run their own online commerce services can now also use their products on Twitter. And it’s also signed up some key direct deals with big retail brands. Chief among them is Best Buy, which will use Stripe to power sales directly in tweets.
Twitter’s buy buttons remain a U.S.-only product for now. But it is nonetheless a big step ahead for the company in its efforts to build a revenue stream beyond advertising and position itself as a place not only to hear and talk about a product, but to buy that product as well — without leaving Twitter to do it.
“The goal for all our commerce initiatives on Twitter is simple: make it as easy as possible for businesses to connect directly with, and sell to, customers on Twitter,” Twitter’s head of commerce, Nathan Hubbard, writes in a blog post about the new expansion. “With Buy Now, businesses can drive more conversions and remove much of the friction in the mobile purchasing process.”
When the Twitter’s buy buttons first made their debut in September 2014, Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday, and Stripe were its initial partners. Twitter widened the funnel yet again earlier this month, when it was named as an early partner for Stripe Relay, a new tool from the e-commerce company to help its merchant customers create native buying experiences on third-party sites.
Today’s list, however, includes some of the biggest commerce platforms around at the moment, potentially opening the use of buy buttons to millions of merchants.
I write “potentially” because merchants still have to want to use them, and consumers will still need to click on and purchase them.
Twitter declined to provide any numbers that illustrate how well its “buy now” service has fared so far. It’s telling that in the last quarterly earnings statement, the buy button and Twitter’s commerce efforts didn’t get any mention at all — Twitter made $502 million in revenue, with $452 million of that coming from advertising.
And in the Q2 earnings call, the commerce part of Twitter’s business came up only once, prompting a mini-dodge from interim-CEO Jack Dorsey.
“On the commerce side it is still super early for this product but a lot of our focus has been around making tweets more relevant and delivering more relevant tweets faster to people and as we do that everything within the action, within the tweet action benefits, including something like commerce,” he said in response to an analyst asking how “buy” buttons had been faring with consumers.
In other words, adding Bigcommerce, Demandware and Shopify to the mix of e-commerce partners, and inking bigger deals with the likes of Best Buy, are not surprising moves if Twitter is serious about making a go of commerce services. It also comes on the heels of reports that Twitter was already preparing to partner with at least two of them back in August.
On the part of the e-commerce platforms, it’s also a natural to see them expanding the list of places where merchants might be able to integrate their services, but while social media has definitely proven to be a strong channel for marketing a product (or complaining about it, as the case may be), it has yet to demonstrate itself as the perfect place for buying.
So for each Twitter integration, for example, Shopify will still look to add a baldly e-commerce partner like Amazon into the mix. But these companies also want to make sure that if there is a future in social commerce, they are right there in the mix.
“Social platforms are at the center of the democratization of retail. Partnering with Twitter and using the Demandware open APIs, Twitter Buy Now will give our retailers a new tool to engage with customers and drive purchases,” said Tom Ebling, chief executive officer at Demandware, in a statement.
Other commerce services that Twitter has developed over the last year have included offers directly to a credit or debit card, and browsing or shopping for collections of products without leaving Twitter.