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Twitter Opens the E-Commerce Floodgates; Here Come the Buy Buttons

Twitter has some new partnerships -- which mean a lot more retailers can sell stuff in your timeline.


Twitter is getting serious about shopping — for real this time.

The social network has dabbled with a Buy button and product pages in the past, but on Wednesday it announced partnerships with Shopify, Bigcommerce and Demandware to make its Buy buttons available to hundreds of thousands of new merchants. The move means that any retailer that uses one of Twitter’s new partners to power its e-commerce sites, big or small, can now sell its products on Twitter using the Buy button, too. Twitter also announced Wednesday that Best Buy will be selling its products on Twitter through the retailer’s partnership with Stripe.

The official announcement comes about two months after Re/code reported Twitter was working with Shopify and other e-commerce software companies on a Buy button integration.

The partnerships also mean these retailers have access to Twitter product pages, a feature the company started testing back in June to encourage a select few retailers to upload their product catalogues to the service.

“To date, we’ve been testing with a very small group of merchants to try and get a sense of what works,” Hubbard told Re/code. “We’ve now broadened the number of merchants that can sell on Twitter from hundreds to millions.”

The new partnerships come on the heels of a similar announcement Twitter made earlier this month when it partnered with Stripe to allow customers who upload their product catalogues through Stripe Relay to easily sell those products on Twitter.

All of these deals have one thing in common for Twitter: The company is trying to make it as simple as possible for small and big merchants alike to get their goods in front of potential customers wherever they are spending time online. It’s a business opportunity for Twitter, of course, although the company hasn’t shared how it plans to monetize its commerce efforts. It’s possible that given Twitter’s emphasis on live events, it could have a real opportunity to sell event-specific products (like it did around the NFL Draft) or even event tickets (Hubbard is the former CEO of Ticketmaster, don’t forget).

These partnerships, however, are just one piece of the puzzle Twitter will have to figure out to turn its commerce initiative into a real business. Significant challenges remain. It’s not yet proven, for example, that a lot of people want to transact on social platforms, nor is it clear how many merchants see a real opportunity here. Additionally, small merchants without strong followings on Twitter will likely have to turn to paid advertisements to promote their products more broadly.

The influx of new merchants pushing Buy buttons will only be evident to users in the U.S. for now, but Hubbard says the company is exploring international options as it gears up for the holidays.

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