Twitter to Dip Its Toes into the eCommerce Waters?

Re/code, a technology blog, has got its hands on leaked documents from Twitter that reveal that the micro-blogging site is planning to allow its 232 million users to buy products direct from the site.This online retail venture, dubbed Twitter Commerce, will be a joint venture with Fancy, a social sharing and ecommerce site which counts Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey as an investor and board member. The leaked documents apparently show mock ups of tweets with product pictures featuring a ‘Buy with Fancy’ button.The move isn’t unexpected. Twitter is primarily a mobile phenomenon and mcommerce is on the rise. Twitter’s senior management signalled their interest in this field last Summer when they took on Nathan Hubbard – previously CEO of Ticketmaster – to head up their ecommerce strategy. Their motivation, of course, is revenue – Twitter still has work to do to justify what many believe to be an inflated stock market valuation. Revenues may have doubled last year but losses widened to $141m.But despite many analysts getting excited about the convergence of mobile, social and ecommerce, no social network site has yet cracked making money from this channel. Back in September 2012, Facebook launched its ‘Gifts’ service to enable its users to buy physical products from the site – one year later, the service was pulled due to lack of demand. Fcommerce – the practice of allowing users to purchase via Facebook stores rather than having to visit ecommerce sites, also failed to take off. And Twitter’s own ‘@Earlybird’ deals service lasted only a few months before it was axed. Perhaps social and ecommerce don’t mix as well as many experts think they should?So is this new move by Twitter doomed to failure? Not necessarily.Granted, studies have proven that social media isn’t very influential when it comes to high ticket price, considered purchases. But impulse buys, particularly those that are highly social, like fashion, have potential to be transacted via Twitter, especially if Twitter can ensure the mechanics of that purchase are simple and quick – no doubt a large part of the reason for the partnership with Fancy, which has an established ecommerce platform.However, the service will need to roll out in a sensible and managed way. If users are bombarded with product tweets from brands with ‘Buy’ buttons, many will be tapping the ‘Log Off’ button – albeit Twitter to date has been successful in finding a good balance between promoted and organic content.Can Twitter crack social commerce? Only time will tell. But the likelihood is their forays will be watched very closely by Facebook, Google et al to see if Twitter can be the first to unearth this potential lucrative pot of gold.