Twitter has been circling commerce for a while.
In 2010 the daily deals craze took off, and the company launched @earlybird, a single account that Tweeted deals to followers. While Groupon offered a range of heavily-discounted local service deals, Twitter mustered a trickle of standard nationwide product offers, and it didn’t work.
Then came Pinterest, and all of a sudden it looked like products might somehow mesh with social media, with sales to follow. Facebook flirted with visual bookmarking, and Twitter currently lets a handful of accounts display collections of items. It makes sense to keep experimenting.
It’s not clear why a ‘Buy button’ hasn’t made it into Tweets yet. Rumors of a deal with Stripe, a payment processor, circulated over a year ago.
More broadly, businesses have been meeting new customers, providing support and selling through Twitter since the very beginning. It’s a dynamic the company has never catered to, not even in part. Because it happens in mentions and direct messages, it’s private unless the user decides otherwise, which works pretty well.
As an example, here’s how we use Twitter at Squeezy, a service that ships US-only items worldwide:
- Given the nature of our business, we seek out customers Tweeting about an international shipping issue that fit our geo, demo and product vertical targets:
@JanKok OK cool. I'll get packaged weight and size and reply with pricing for you.— Squeezy (@squeezyco) August 6, 2015
- To avoid lengthy back-and-forths, we get to the two most important aspects of our service, price and timing, quickly and succinctly:
@JanKok Hey Jan, just spoke to them. I can ship that item to you in NED for $140.86 (2-3 days to NY, 6-10 to NED)— Squeezy (@squeezyco) August 6, 2015
- Without a ‘Buy’ button or card, we generate a short, temporary checkout link:
- The link opens inside Twitter. A single-page, mobile-optimized checkout flow displays order details, PayPal or card (Stripe) buttons, and asks for shipping address. The user never has to sign up:
- What starts on Twitter stays on Twitter. Follow-up confirmation and tracking events are all relayed in the same conversation:
@JanKok Thanks, ordered! We'll keep you updated as your item ships, arrives in NY and is sent to you in NED.— Squeezy (@squeezyco) August 6, 2015
@squeezyco cool! Thanks for the update— Jan Kok (@JanKok) August 6, 2015