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Last summer, Twitter rolled out an eCommerce test program that let users browse products from a “Shop Module” residing at the top of a seller or brand’s page. In the initial testing phase, users could only browse five products at a time, which were among a few design setbacks. A new fully-fledged Twitter Shops has been launched, offering more space to shop and sell.
According to Twitter’s blog, Twitter Shops allows merchants to handpick a collection of up to 50 products to showcase to shoppers on Twitter. The free feature will enable users to browse products from the profiles of their favorite brands, so when customers discover products and mention them on the timeline, they can now look them up on Twitter, too.
Unfortunately, the platform won’t let users make a purchase directly. The shop listings will link a prospective customer to the company’s website in an in-app browser to make the purchase.
Users can head to the profile of a merchant that has Twitter Shops enabled to see a “View shop” button just above their Tweets. After clicking the button, it will open up that merchant’s shop, where users can browse. To make a purchase, shoppers can click on the product, opening an in-app browser to learn more about the product, and checkout on the merchant’s website.
Companies initially launching with Twitter Shops include Verizon, Arden Cove, the Latinx In Power podcast, Gay Pride Apparel, and All I Do Is Cook.
Twitter has been steadily launching new creator tools prior to perfecting Twitter Shops. They introduced Super Follows, Twitter Blue, which offers users a subscription option, newsletters, NFT avatars, in-app tipping through a Tip Jar, Twitter Spaces with audio options, etc. However, the company has been facing many criticisms towards its latest upgrades. The critics fear that the focus on new ways to drive platform revenue are ultimately distracting from crucial work that needs to be done regarding the spread of misinformation and propaganda, especially relating to the current overseas conflict. But social platforms can’t risk being left in the dust when it comes to the mass migration to monetization.
Shops underscores Twitter’s latest efforts to turn their social platform into a shopping mecca, and the broader goal of all popular social media platforms eventually turning towards eCommerce.
While competition breeds innovation, it might become difficult for platforms like Twitter to keep up with the commerce giant that is TikTok. As TechCrunch notes, TikTok’s ability to push mega viral trends encourages more spontaneous purchases. Last month, the platform held an event that told creators that 48% of users had at one point immediately purchased a product after they saw it on the platform, and 67% bought even when they weren’t looking to shop. This rate of random purchases, and an endless scroll of content will be nearly impossible for Twitter to duplicate.
On TikTok, the shopping is organic and native to the ethos of the app. On Twitter, shopping is merely a new extension allowing users to make purchases. Expanding purchasing opportunities on the platform could be tricky since the one thing that keeps users returning to Twitter is the lack of fluff and marketing on users’ timelines. Any further foray into eCommerce could potentially jeopardize this relationship.
Time will tell how Twitter will fare in the current social commerce push. Engadget points out that the company said at its most recent analyst day presentation that it sees eCommerce as a significant opportunity. So we’ll see how they balance lowering consumer trust with the necessity to monetize.