Twitter has announced they will be testing their new eCommerce feature, the "Buy" button, with a small number of select vendors in the U.S. The addition of the "Buy" button to Twitter's current functionality enables users to purchase products or services directly from vendor tweets with just a "few taps":
"In our test, an entire purchase can be completed in just a few taps. After tapping the "Buy" button, you will get additional product details and be prompted to enter your shipping and payment information. Once that's entered and confirmed, your order information is sent to the merchant for delivery"
-- Testing a way for you to make purchases on Twitter, Twitter, 2014
Users Favor PC Purchases Over Mobile
Twitter's latest update, albeit a test, will not only explore the impact of social media on eCommerce, but also the impact of social media on mobile eCommerce, too.
Twitter's audience is primarily mobile. More than half of its users navigate the social network via smart phones and tablets. A fact that is not at all surprising, since Twitter was designed with the mobile user in mind. The platform's finite character space (a brief 140 characters) was modelled after the limitations of text messaging. When it comes to cracking mobile eCommerce, you couldn't ask for a better community of "test subjects" than Twitter's impassioned tweeters.
But, why does mobile eCommerce need to be cracked? Well, despite the steady increase of eCommerce purchases year over year, many online shoppers, particularly those in North America, still prefer a desktop experience to a mobile one. While mobile browsing has grown, the majority of transactions still occur on desktops. When it comes to making a purchase, online shopping via desktop can be more user-friendly and reduce the margin of error, especially on non-responsive eCommerce sites. (To learn about how Google treats mobile-unfriendly sites, click here)
One of the biggest threats to mobile eCommerce is information security. The recent mobile hacks and exploitation of Hollywood celebrities has catapulted the dangers of mobile hacking to the top of social feeds everywhere. Twitter will have to be vigilant when it comes to their eCommerce security measures. Looking at the Terms & Conditions of Twitter's "Buy" button, the social network guarantees that your payment and shipping information will be "encrypted and safely stored after your first transaction". Yes, some setup is involved. However, this also means that users will only have to labour through setup process once.
Social Impulse Buying
Mobile eCommerce is great for small impulse purchases and of course, with the momentum of social sharing behind it, vendors will be lining up in droves to take advantage of Twitter's "Buy" button. Remember the massive success of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge? Yes, social media is a powerful tool. Yes, a great cause can rally the masses. And yes, peer pressure can be a motivator. But, imagine being able to donate to ALS with a few taps on your mobile device. With the addition of the "Buy" button, Twitter is harnessing the power of its network as well as the power of emotional marketing. Twitter's test group of vendors are composed of artists, musicians, fashion leaders and non-profits-all entities capable of eliciting an emotional response from an audience.
We're a society that thrives on immediate interactions. We're impatient, impulsive and just like Veruca Salt, we want everything now. Twitter, the real-time, social platform knows this. It knows we want to push the button.