Twitter launches 'buy now' buttons for retailers

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It's been about a year since Twitter launched tests of e-commerce, and now it's rolling out a "buy now" button system wide—so any U.S. retailer big or small can sell physical products, digital goods or services all within a tweet.

Twitter says this puts it on its way being the world's biggest social marketplace. Twitter is looking to make it easy for a wide range of retailers to come on board by integrating with all the major e-commerce platforms: Shopify, Bigcommerce and Demandware. Merchants can also list their products on Stripe Relay to share and sell products. (One big retailer that's on board is Best Buy, which will be selling its products on Twitter through Stripe.)

Twitter hopes this will generate a new meaningful revenue stream as it struggles with stagnating user growth. The company will take a cut of many of the transactions as it hopes to drive ad dollars by helping retailers boost sales.

"We think of Twitter as the world's largest direct-to-consumer channel," Twitter's head of commerce Nathan Hubbard said. "We have been from the beginning working to try to make those conversations transactional while appropriate. Brands are building direct relationships with consumers and they're using platforms to build those direct relationships. What they don't always have is distribution."

Hubbard adds that demand for this kind of social commerce is huge: More than 50 million tweets a month say "I want" or "I need" something. Plus, over 100 million people follow a brand or a merchant on Twitter. Now, Hubbard predicts billions of dollars in e-commerce transactions will move into apps.

"The next big thing in mobile is 'buy' buttons. We're just at the beginning of transactional mobile commerce. It's clear to us consumers will be able to buy in the apps where they spend the most time," Hubbard said. "What's unique about Twitter is that it's where people already connect with the things that they love."