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Want it now? Social media can help


Social media has evolved into a powerful marketing tool for retailers. But so far, social commerce is not yet a major transactional channel.

Twitter is the latest social platform to attempt to take advantage of social media’s immediacy to offer direct purchase functionality aimed at impulse shoppers.

Partnering with e-commerce providers including cloud-based commerce solution vendor Demandware, as well as e-commerce platforms Shopify and Bigcommerce, Twitter is offering “Buy Now” functionality. Leveraging tools such as open commerce APIs and configurable product feeds, the integration extends commerce functionality from third-party commerce platforms to tweets.

This means that retailers can leverage their existing e-commerce infrastructure, including payment, order management and shipping, for purchases made on Twitter. Rather than having consumers link to a separate e-commerce page from Twitter, shoppers can instead buy directly from a tweet on their PC, tablet or smartphone. And the cost of enabling this functionality is greatly reduced via direct integration to various third-party e-commerce providers.

Considering the inherent real-time immediacy of 140-character tweets, obviously “Buy Now” will best serve as a way to entice customers to make snap purchase decisions based on discounts and promotions. One of the first retailers to launch Buy Now functionality is Demandware user PacSun.

“Our customers live on Twitter, so giving them an easy way to buy products that they discover in their Twitter feeds, without leaving the app, is a no-brainer,” said PacSun CEO Gary Schoenfeld. “Social commerce is a key part of our overarching strategy, and Demandware has made it easy for us to integrate the Twitter Buy Now feature with our existing ecommerce order processing system." [pb]

TWITTER: There is nothing preventing Twitter from partnering with even more e-commerce platform providers to provide Buy Now, and it is entirely possible the company will do so after seeing how this initial rollout performs. It is important to view Twitter Buy Now as the latest step in a continuum of social media companies trying to let consumers buy what they want, when and where they want it, without having to leave the world of social media.

Twitter itself has been piloting a buy button, slightly different from the Buy Now button, since September 2014. The buy button lets users tap the button to get additional product details. They are then prompted to enter shipping and payment information. Once that’s entered and confirmed, order information is sent to the merchant for delivery.

Twitter has so far partnered with smaller e-commerce platforms like Fancy and Gumroad on this buy button, although media reports indicate it is negotiating with larger e-commerce platform Shopify. Other social media platforms, including Pinterest and Facebook, have already been working with Shopify to expand the reach of their own buy button features.

PINTEREST: Pinterest has also been collaborating with Demandware and Shopify on its “Buyable Pins” feature launched in June. Users can tap the “buy it” button on a pin they like and immediately purchase the displayed item with Apple Pay or credit card. Personal info can be saved to make purchases even faster. Retailers including Jo-Ann Fabric, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Michael’s and Gardner’s Supply Company all offer buyable pins.

FACEBOOK: Naturally the granddaddy of all the social media platforms, Facebook, is taking part in the buy button fun. Since summer 2014, Facebook has been testing a new “buy” button designed to help businesses drive sales through Facebook in News Feed and on Pages.

With this feature, people on desktop or mobile can click the “Buy” call-to-action button on ads and page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook.

Also, Facebook’s Instagram visual social network has been partnering with entities as diverse as eBay Enterprise, Facebook and Barney’s to offer purchases directly from images posted on the site.

In addition, earlier in September Facebook debuted a new “Shop” section of its pages that lets retailers more prominently highlight the products they sell. Shopify has partnered with Facebook to enable Shopify merchants to showcase as well as sell their products in the new Shop section.

Retailers can choose to direct shoppers to their online store, or to checkout directly on the Facebook site or mobile app.

The notion of a distinct “store” continues to fade as constant consumer connectivity offers retailers more points of contact where they potentially make a sale. The concept of making instant purchases via social media is still in its infancy, but look for possible significant growth spurts.

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