Twitter is beginning to test a 'buy' button that can be included in tweets to allow users to purchase products from retailers , signifying its move to explore new revenue avenues.
Currently only available to a small percentage of US users, the buy button will let Twitter users make purchases directly from retailers' tweets. Purchases can be completed in just a few clicks or taps on a mobile device – providing users have given Twitter their billing and shipping details.
In a blog post, Tarun Jain, Twitter's group product manager, said that Twitter users will have access to offers and merchandise that they cannot get elsewhere.
Jain added that the feature also offers opportunity for retailers: "Sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales."
As a small-scale trial, Twitter users are mostly limited to album purchases. The social media company partnered up with 28 major musicians and clothing brands, including Pharrell and Burberry.
Given the public nature of social media, some might be concerned that buying through Twitter could put their financial details at risk, but Jain explained that such information was encrypted and safely stored after a user's first transaction.
"We built this test experience with your trust and security at the forefront. Your credit card is processed securely and won't be shared with the seller without your permission," wrote Jain.
Twitter did not reveal whether it planned to make the buy button available to UK users and retailers.
V3 contacted Twitter for additional information, but has yet to receive a response.
While Twitter has kept any e-commerce strategy it has under wraps, the move is likely a way to find new revenue streams other than the advertising that fuels Twitter's income.
Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, told V3 that he believes for Twitter to remain a major player in the social media space it needs to add new features that appeal to businesses as well as users.
"For Twitter this is a revenue opportunity but it's also a platform for them to expand the nature of their relationship with their users, and if successful this will mean Twitter can offer a much wider variety of business services that better connect them to their own customers," he explained.
When asked if the buy button was a one-off test, Blau responded: "I don't think this is an experiment, but it's also not a program that is set in stone and I would expect Twitter to continue to test their assumptions on how to configure their e-commerce solutions so we will see it evolve."
Blau went on to add that for Twitter to address growth issues outside of organic growth, it will likely add more features to its platform.
"I think we will see the rate of product updates and overall expansion at Twitter be fairly aggressive as they attempt to remain relevant and grow their influence globally," he declared.
Twitter's buy button plans follow on from a recent move to, open up its analytics-tracking dashboard to all its users, which puts analytics within the reach of small business users.
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