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Twitter Introduces “Buy” Buttons So You Can Shop From Tweets

As growth of users slows, Twitter focuses on increasing revenue.

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.

Starting today, some Twitter users will be able to buy products directly from a tweet, as the social media company takes a bigger step toward an e-commerce strategy that could draw in more dollars and attract a larger audience.

The initiative launches with a small group of brands, artists and charities that will start posting products for sale in tweets shown to a small percentage of users. Sellers include Burberry, Rihanna and the nonprofit group (RED). Over the next few months, the company expects to broaden the list of sellers and increase the visibility of its e-commerce tweets as the holiday shopping season approaches. Re/code first reported on the planned commerce initiative back in January and said in July that Twitter would roll out the service in time for the holidays.

The move comes at a critical time for Twitter as it looks to increase revenue, as user growth has slowed in recent quarters. While there will be skeptics who say people don’t come to Twitter with an intent to purchase goods, Twitter commerce chief Nathan Hubbard says analyzing the content of tweets across the service proves otherwise.

“There are conversations happening every second [on Twitter] between users and sellers of all types: Brands, artists and charities,” said Hubbard, a former CEO of Ticketmaster, in an interview with Re/code. “Those are conversations that are in service of a transaction.”

Twitter believes the shopping-enabled tweets could also boost its advertising business, as retail brands and other entities could pay to place “Buy” buttons in front of users who don’t follow their accounts. Some brands already advertise products within these promoted tweets, and letting people buy directly within the Twitter posts could help increase purchases.

Unlike other online retailers, Twitter’s service could lend itself to limited-time sales or product sales tied to live happenings, since the social network has become a popular digital gathering spot to discuss TV programs and sporting events.

Users who want to purchase something on Twitter will click on a “Buy” button in one of the shoppable tweets and then enter their credit card and shipping information. The order is then passed on to partner platforms to handle shipment or digital delivery of the goods. Spotlighting the value of capturing user data, Twitter will store the payment information with the help of payments startup Stripe. That’ll also allow Twitter users to make future purchases without having to re-enter their payment information.

As Re/code first reported, Stripe will process payments for all purchases made on Twitter at launch. Over time, Twitter will likely work with other payments processors as big brands that have partnerships with other processors look to take advantage of the social network’s e-commerce capability.

The initial group of sellers is working with one of three commerce partners to help them sell on Twitter: Fancy, Gumroad and Musictoday.

For now, people will only come across these commerce tweets if they follow a brand that is selling through the service, or if they are targeted with tweet advertisements containing products for sale. If the commerce initiative is successful, Twitter will consider expanding the type of ways it surfaces products for sale, Hubbard said.

“We think about commerce on Twitter as being a standalone proposition for our users and that’s aspirationally what our mission is to build,” he said.

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