Twitter has taken tentative steps towards e-commerce, introducing a “buy” button to some tweets for the first time.
The new feature, introduced initially “for a small percentage of US users”, lets users buy goods directly from some promoted tweets, without having to go through any third party.
It also marks the first time Twitter has directly taken payment data from its users. A new page on users’ settings invites them to store their payment methods and lists their order history.
“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” said Twitter’s 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.
“We’re not building this alone,” Jain continued. “We’ve partnered with Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday and Stripe as platforms for this initial test, with more partners to follow soon.”
Once the user hits “buy”, they are given additional details about the product, and prompted to enter shipping and payment info, which is saved for future transactions.
The move into shopping follows a much smaller-scale experiment with Amazon in May. Branded #AmazonBasket in the UK and #AmazonCart in the US, the feature let users buy add a product to their Amazon shopping basket simply by replying to a tweet.
But that foray into e-commerce was less than successful. The experiment was plagued with problems from conception: users could only buy products when they saw a link to an Amazon product page tweeted; and even if they did use Twitter’s platform, they still had to go to Amazon’s website to complete the transaction.
“#AmazonCart is one of those things that seems like it’s designed to make your life more convenient, but in reality it’s just a way to encourage the sharing of Amazon links rather than links to other retail sites,” wrote Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham.
Although Twitter’s Buy button will only be available initially to a very small group of US users, the company plans to roll it out to a wider selection in the future. Initial partners include the rock band Death From Above 1979, fashion firm Burberry and anti-AIDS group (RED).
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010