Twitter could be the Sybil of the internet. It is an app of many personalities as its use case is uniquely defined by individual users. To the technically inclined, it is a micro-blogging channel. To celebrity smitten folks, it is a live version of People Magazine. To business people it can be a valuable communications channel. To the self promoter intent on building a personal brand, it can be a digital bull horn that knows no limits.
Twitter is many things to many people, but is it also soon to be a place to shop?
Tech site Recode reported last week that experimental “Buy Now” buttons were appearing in tweets linking users to e-retailer Fancy.com. Experimental seems the right word as the buttons were not activated and were visible on mobile but not web versions of Twitter.
Recode had sniffed out this e-commerce play in the making earlier this year as documented here, and the sighting last week could be perceived as either a pre-rollout test or a simple tease to the Twitterverse.
Since going public last year, Twitter has been seeking to establish new revenue streams to satisfy hunger investment markets. Until now, sponsored Tweets were the principal advertising play in view, but direct linkage from the Twitter stream to an e-commerce retailer will add a new dimension to the business model.
American Express has been presenting special merchant offers on Twitter for about 2 years by allowing cardmembers to sync their card accounts to their twitter account. Amazon has enabled consumers to add products to their shopping card by including #AmazonCart in a reply to a merchant. The “add now, buy later” program from Amazon is a one-stop method for twitter users to sock away items for purchase with barely a pause while checking out their Twitter stream.
Both the Amex and Amazon efforts seem promising, though each of these brands must be aware of the challenges in linking the digital to the real world based on Facebook’s decision to transition Facebook Gifts from physical gifts to a pure gift card play.
The “Buy Now” buttons might not get consumers anywhere today, but keep clicking and soon we imagine that you’ll experience a new way to shop.