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Twitter Introduces Offers: Discounts You Claim in Tweets and Redeem in Stores

First, Twitter entered e-commerce. Now it wants a piece of physical world retail, too.

John Murrell/Recode
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

First, Twitter dipped its toes into e-commerce. Now it wants a piece of bricks-and-mortar retail, too.

The social network today is introducing Twitter Offers, discounts that users can claim right from an advertiser’s tweet by linking their credit or debit card account with Twitter. The Twitter user can then redeem the discount simply by paying with the synced card in the retailer’s physical store or online shop.

“We see Twitter users sending millions of expression of demand a day,” Nathan Hubbard, Twitter’s head of commerce, said in an interview. In turn, Twitter is focused on introducing tools that can, “where appropriate, turn those conversations into making transactions.”

The digital coupon offering marks the social network’s first formal foray into helping physical retailers measure the impact of online promotions. It also could allow Twitter to capture a piece of the 90-plus percent of commerce that still takes place in physical stores.

Twitter will initially make money by charging advertisers to promote the tweets that contain the offers. It could later decide to charge retailers a fee for every offer that is claimed or redeemed. Hubbard said Twitter plans to introduce other ways for its users to claim discount offers, especially in parts of the world where credit and debit cards aren’t commonly used.

Twitter has experimented with these kinds of deals for American Express customers in the past. For example, an American Express cardholder who linked a credit card account with a Twitter account and tweeted #AmexBestBuy automatically got a statement credit when she spent $250 in a Best Buy store.

But Twitter’s July acquisition of a startup called CardSpring allowed Twitter to formalize this type of product, eliminate the need for a hashtag, and make it available to all retailers and all card networks. Once a Twitter user syncs their payment card to the service, they can claim subsequent offers without re-entering their card information.

Select retailers and food chains will start promoting their offers on Twitter today, in time for the Black Friday weekend shopping frenzy. Twitter expects advertisers to target deals to people based on a variety of factors, including their location.

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