Twitter announced that they have launched a pilot to test the possibility of providing e-commerce on its platform. They explained in a recent blog that they are trying out a new “Shop Module” that offers business users the ability to showcase their products to others directly on their business profile. 

In 2015, Twitter was in the early stages of exploring shopping on Twitter with features like the “Buy Now” button, product pages, and product collections, but they eventually stepped back from shopping pursuits to focus on other areas. Now, in 2021, they are back and putting more energy into testing out the potential for shopping on the platform. 

We are now asking what has changed that Twitter feels more confident now than back in 2015? How will it stack up against other in-app shopping on competitor platforms, and what does this mean for brands looking to advertise on Twitter? 


Twitter And Shopping

Most successful social media platforms have found a way to provide shopping options for users, and Twitter has been cautious about jumping into the option. Although they provide ad space for businesses, clicking on any link takes one outside the platform to land on a business’s website or shopping page. With an in-platform shopping option, it can happen within the Twitter app.

Twitter explains that launching the Shop Module provides a feature that allows them to explore how shoppable profiles can create a pathway from talking about and discovering products on Twitter to actually purchasing them. 

“We’re starting small with a handful of brands in the United States,” a July 28 Twitter blog announced. “People in the U.S. who use Twitter in English on iOS devices will be able to see the Shop Module.”

Twitter also explained in a series of tweets that their DR roadmap starts with improving current products they provide; then, they focus on how Twitter can increase website clicks for businesses. After the first two are fully met – and users are satisfied – they aim to provide new products when the time is right. 

One tweet reads, “We want to be really thoughtful about how we do this so that we’re helping advertisers find their customers and continue to own that relationship with the customer.”

And they also admit they have better leverage now than they did in 2015. 

Twitter is refreshingly open about being unsure of how their pilot will play out. But based on their cautious approach and the growing need and interest for users and businesses to embrace the Shop Module, their prioritization demonstrates a maturity that leads to the possibility of success. 

“We believe in the power of the conversations that Twitter facilitates around products,” they explain. “With this pilot, we’ll get to explore how our engaged, responsive, and chatty audience reacts to products that are emotionally charged…And, fundamentally, it’ll give us the chance to keep learning about which shopping experiences people prefer on Twitter.” 


Caution Breeds Confidence

The way the Shop Module currently works is that users can easily browse through a carousel of product images. If they like an image in the carousel, they can then click through to purchase. This results in the brand’s website opening up inside the Twitter app itself, where customers can learn more and take action. 

The hope with an in-app option is that businesses can improve conversions by keeping the customer fully engaged. Sometimes, if one clicks through to another page outside of the app, it increases the likelihood of abandonment. 

The success of Twitter’s Shop Module is based on how confident businesses are in the product and how the company listens and responds to the demands of businesses and brands of all sizes. The relationship is symbiotic. Instead of promoting a new product that doesn’t meet users’ needs, this product now looks like a natural next step in Twitter business support.

Being cautious about how the platform manages business objectives is important. It is hard enough to convince business owners to throw money at promotions and marketing strategies that have not been proven. By starting small and focusing on a handful of companies to test the Shop Module, Twitter shows how the patient, cautious approach is best. 


In Closing

Based on Twitter’s test pilot approach, they are likely to see success as long as businesses see it. Starting cautiously is a good way to iterate more efficiently and improve the product based on brand responses. Only time will really tell how successful the Shop Module will be, but the signs point to building more confidence than skepticism.

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