What Will Twitter Commerce be like in a Year’s Time?

What Will Twitter Commerce be like in a Year’s Time?

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo set his sights on Twitter commerce in 2012, and since then, to consolidate their commerce offerings, the company has been rigorously launching new product features (such as Twitter cards), partnering with brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Amazon, and acquiring social commerce and analytics companies like Gnip, MoPub, CardSpring, MadBits, and Bluefin Labs.

It seems the stage is set for Twitter to enable commerce for brands; However, commerce on any platform means users should be able to find, buy and have products delivered to their doorstep, on any device, whether it is mobile, laptop or tablet, which would not be an easy task for Twitter, being an open platform with a focus on engagement rather than transactions.

Based on Twitter’s recent product updates and acquisitions we have looked into how Twitter commerce will possibly look like for brands in years to come.

1: Tweet to find product

For any business, the first step in any commerce cycle is to enable customers to find their products and services, and on Twitter that can be done in two ways.

First, Twitter advertising, which means based on a Twitter algorithm around users interest, sponsored tweets will appear on a user’s timeline with a details of products and services. Such as the Twitter mobile app, which has recently gained momentum, where an install option within the tweet takes users directly to the app store. However, when the Twitter timeline view/MAU is in decline, it may not be the best way to find stuff on Twitter.

Second, the customer can tweet to brands to find the product; this is like a product search feature on any ecommerce website, where a user can enter the product name, keyword, category and/or location to find the relevant product. This feature will become more popular, especially when Twitter’s main focus is engagement.

2: Tweet to add a product to the shopping basket

Like an online ecommerce site, once a user can find a product, the next step is to add that product to a shopping basket and to replicate that feature on Twitter; Amazon has recently launched a feature where users can reply to an Amazon tweet with #AmazonBasket hashtag to add products to their online basket. This is still early days and a hybrid approach where the user needs to link their Twitter and Amazon web accounts before using this feature, but a stone has been laid in the road ahead.

3: Tweet to buy product

This is the most challenging and critical area for Twitter to resolve, because to buy a product within a tweet they have to obtain the user’s credit card information, and being a very public platform, I would doubt users would be happy to give their credit card details to or on Twitter. However, Twitter has recently bought CardSpring, a start-up that can link users’ web/social accounts and credit card and be used both on and offline, so possibly users will be able to buy products using CardSpring technology.

Another potential approach could be to allow users to only reserve product on Twitter and then process payment when they arrive at an offline store. For example, for one of our clients (an online restaurant booking service), we have enabled a service where users can reserve their table on Twitter and pay at the restaurant.

4: Tweet to Deliver Product

Twitter has already made huge progress in delivering product with examples like Tweet a coffee and Tweet a Coke. Twitter has partnered with Starbucks and Coke so that users can go on brands’ websites and link their Twitter account and credit card to the brands’ web accounts. Thereafter they can send gift vouchers just via a Tweet. It is still a hybrid approach but in future, via CardSpring technology, Twitter would enable users to link their Twitter accounts to credit cards, after which they can simply tweet to buy a product without linking their Twitter account to brand’s web account.

5: Tweet to customer service

Twitter customer service is already at a very advanced stage, many companies have customer support handlers in place who promptly response to any user queries. In fact, there are many incidences where users have taken to Twitter to force companies to respond publicly. In addition to socialbakers, recent research has confirmed that Twitter has beaten Facebook by far when it comes to customer care.

6: Tweet to reward people

American express runs a Twitter loyalty program where users are rewarded every time they use hashtag (#AmExOffers). There is huge opportunity for running loyalty programs on Twitter, as there are many entities attached to a tweet, such as text, image, location, URL, hashtag, tag pictures, @mention etc. and users can be rewarded every time they use these entities to engage with brands.

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