Twitter’s taking a more commercial tack, giving consumers an easier path to purchase with its most comprehensive take on the “buy” button to date.
The move came just as speculation heated up Wednesday that Jack Dorsey, interim chief executive officer and cofounder, would be taking back the reins as permanent ceo following Dick Costolo’s departure in July.
This story first appeared in the October 1, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Twitter appears to be making a big push in e-commerce this time after several smaller efforts, and is teaming with three of the leading cloud commerce platforms — Demandware, Bigcommerce and Shopify. They will help Twitter users purchase items they find without leaving their feed, and Stripe Relay will power the function.
Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. will be the first Demandware client to offer the service, but the functionality is available to any of the 295 brands that are live on Demandware’s platform. Bigcommerce and Shopify will roll out similar “buy- now” functionalities for brands operating on their platforms.
Bigcommerce’s ceo Brent Bellm said any brand that has an “intense enough following” to use Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook to push news or product releases can benefit from having in-app purchasing.
“What the ‘buy’ button does is turn that marketing — which was already effective to your best customers — into something that’s transactional,” Bellm said.
He said a lot of potential sales are lost if it’s too hard for a consumer to buy goods online.
Social shopping has seen a slow start, but could be gaining steam as it becomes easier for brands to sell to their followers.
The Twitter tie-up marks Demandware’s second major partnership with a leading social platform in the last four months. In June, Demandware and Pinterest rolled out “Buyable Pins,” which are used by brands including Cole Haan, Kate Spade and Ethan Allen. Hobby and home retailers Michael’s and Jo-Ann Stores were also among the first to employ Pinterest’s buy option.
Elana Anderson, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Demandware, estimated that social media will directly influence 5 percent of all online retail revenue, whether this is a sale conducted directly on a social platform or a sale referred by the social site.
“Twitter has gone around the block a couple of times with this,” Anderson said. This time, the executive hopes the commerce element will stick. “[We’re] making it very easy for clients; clients of Demandware can implement this using their existing e-commerce infrastructure.”
When a user opts to buy on Twitter, that purchase leverages all of the payment processes, fulfillment and shipping options that are already available on the brands’ sites. Anderson said this social commerce piece passes through the entire e-commerce environment, but it eliminates the step of going to the separate site and adding the product to a cart. On the back end for brands, it looks like a regular e-commerce purchase.
Anderson acknowledged industry sentiment that consumers don’t really visit social media platforms to shop.
“It’s going to be a small part of commerce for some time, but I think as consumers become more aware of the ability to buy through social channels and see how easy it is, we’ll see it increasing overall e-commerce purchases,” Anderson said.
Even though social media platforms aren’t seen as shopping sites per se, this hasn’t stopped e-commerce firms and brands from trying. She said early results show that consumers on Pinterest are gravitating toward purchases relating to home and do-it-yourself projects.
“We found that a Michael’s or a Jo-Ann [Stores] is a perfect example for social commerce. Users can put up their projects and then other people want to replicate the project and buy the item,” Anderson said.
Purchasing patterns vary by social site, and buying on Twitter has been more of a “true impulse” buy.