The days of Twitter’s “buy” button are finally coming to an end.
This week, Shopify told its merchant clients that they would no longer be able to have a “buy now” option on Tweets.
Shopify is a multichannel commerce platform that works with companies such as Kylie Cosmetics, Freda Salvador Tesla, Red Bull, Nestle and GE. It said that it would begin “sunsetting” its Twitter integration for new and existing merchants by the end of March. Shopify still offers integrations with Amazon, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest and others.
This follows news in May that Twitter would cease product development related to its “buy now” feature, which let brands sell products directly within Twitter. The microblogging platform also disbanded its commerce team, and Nathan Hubbard, head of commerce, left.
Instead of a buy option, Twitter instead is now focusing on products such as “web site conversions,” a program it started in September, according to a Twitter spokeswoman. The web site conversions objective is meant to help marketers target ads in situations where there’s a high likelihood that a specific behavior takes place. For example, someone who is browsing for shoes online will be shown an ad from DSW while on Twitter, or another publishing platform, and therefore be more likely to purchase.
This is after Twitter, which has had a tough year, found that users of its platform are more inclined to discover a brand’s general offering rather than inclined to buy a specific product.
Web sales platform BigCommerce explored building an integration for the Twitter “buy now” button in 2015 when the feature was initially revealed, but ultimately it did not pursue development. It does offer “buy now” integrations, with platforms including Facebook and Pinterest, which are used by thousands of customers, according to BigCommerce.
This leads to the question: Is the failure of the “buy” button a Twitter problem, or a problem with what has been referred to as social commerce?
Research has shown that with the shift toward mobile, most people spend their time in only a handful of apps. That offers both an opportunity and a challenge for retailers hoping to make sales to mobile shoppers.
“Mobile commerce is still evolving and mutating across platforms and channels. No one has it figured out yet, but the biggest apps continue to experiment — both through Relay and Stripe Connect,” said Tim Drinan, who is a spokesman for Stripe, which facilitates payments in multiple digital contexts such as Twitter and Facebook. “While the exact instantiation may change, we remain bullish on the space overall, since the forces driving platforms and retailers to more advanced infrastructure for mobile commerce are only growing.”
Instagram, for example, has been updating and testing multiple commerce-friendly offerings. Instagram parent-company Facebook has multiple ad products that encourage users to shop. Facebook also offers a “shop” section for its business Pages and is testing payment capabilities within Facebook Messenger, yet it’s also developing ways to encourage in-store purchases.
Pinterest has aggressively focused its efforts on commerce, as it found that 55 percent of people on the platform are there to shop, compared with 12 percent of people on social networks, and that 75 percent of its content is from businesses.
Social commerce is still finding its footing — and Twitter is trying to recover from a misstep.