By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated February 04, 2014.
Twitter may be upping its game to make money. According to news reports, the microblogging social service is in the process of creating an e-commerce platform.
The reports, indicating that Twitter is preparing to complement its advertising revenue streams with product and services sales that can be conducted directly from a news feed, are based are several data points. For instance, the service recently posted want ads for e-commerce specialists, including a commerce product manager, a commerce product marketing manager and a senior manager for commerce.
There are also indications that Twitter has negotiated an agreement with a payment services company, Stripe, with a contract to be signed soon. Stripe could become the backend financial services provider. Additionally, mock ups of Twitter e-commerce have been posted on Re/code.net, showing how user flow would work with products from the online commerce site Fancy.com.
Fancy.com Mock Ups
Re/code said that the screenshots, part of other documentation supporting the idea that Twitter is readying e-commerce, were found on a public section of Fancy.com that was not password protected. According to Re/code, which cited “a source with direct knowledge of Twitter’s commerce plans,” the mock ups had been created by Fancy.com and presented to Twitter as a vision of how the selling process might take place. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is on the board of Fancy.com as well as an investor in the company.
The mock ups depict a Commerce Tweet, a Sale Screen and Checkout. In the Commerce Tweet, a tap on the tweet or a product image begins the checkout process, the Sale Screen offers detailed descriptions and more images, and the Checkout screen includes credit card information, shipping addresses and delivery options.
In Fancy.com’s vision of how Twitter e-commerce would work, the sales would resemble current Promoted Tweets, except that they would lead to Checkout. Commerce would also be possible through Twitter’s Discover section.
Neither Twitter, Fancy.com nor Stripe have confirmed these reports.
Twitter has experimented with selling products, but not in a sustained fashion. An EarlyBird offering on the site allowed users to click through tweets to buy products on an advertiser’s external site, for instance and last year a partnership with American Express permitted some products to be purchased under a specific hashtag. Facebook tried some e-commerce two years ago, but without much user interest. Recently, Facebook has started testing a mobile payments service with stored credit card information.
Some social media observers have speculated that such social sites as Facebook and Twitter are primarily about communicating with other users or finding news about favorite products or stars, not about shopping or researching products. According to this thinking, a social site like Pinterest is more product-oriented, and therefore more conductive to selling products.
Having gone public, Twitter is under pressure to increase its revenue sources and flow. Last August, Twitter added ex-Ticketmaster president Nathan Hubbard as its head of commerce, and Bloomberg News reported at that time that Twitter intended to provide tools for brands to sell products inside tweets.