What You Need to Know About Twitter’s E-commerce FeaturesSocial media dominates nearly every aspect of consumer life, and so it’s no surprise that 74 percent of buyers rely on these networks to guide their purchases. In fact, it’s been predicted that U.S. consumers will spend $327 billion online in 2016. Although that’s still two years away, major players like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter have been preparing features specifically designed to help brands boost e-commerce sales.

Twitter in particular has ramped up its preparation, and recently confirmed testing of a new way to discover and buy products on the social platform. Here we take a closer look at Twitter’s relationship with e-commerce.

Twitter’s E-Commerce History

Twitter has been experimenting with e-commerce for the past couple of years. In an early partnership with American Express, the two brands made completing a purchase as easy as sending a tweet. AmEx cardholders are able to pay for select products by tweeting special hashtags. Brands including The Sharper Image, Kohl’s, Panera Bread, and Amtrak have all participated.

More recently, Twitter partnered with Amazon to launch #AmazonCart. Through the program, consumers can connect their Twitter profiles to Amazon, enabling them to tweet a reply to Amazon product links viewed on Twitter. That item will then be added to the shopper’s cart on Amazon, and he or she can complete the purchase during their next logged-in session.

This program creates a seamless link between social and commerce, while decreasing the risk that someone will forget the product they discovered on Twitter while switching between apps or websites.

If you don’t want to limit yourself to a third-party, Twitter Cards provide brands with a way to integrate products into tweets as well. The Product Card was specifically designed to showcase your products within tweets, helping you to drive sales. It comes with an image, description, and two additional details, such as price, availability, or size.

One of the great things about Twitter Cards is that you’re able to track their performance through an analytics dashboard. Here you’re able to see impressions, URL clicks, and app installs generated by your tweets, as well as mentions from others.

What’s Next for E-Commerce on Twitter?

Last week, Twitter confirmed the testing of a new Buy button, which will enable consumers to complete transactions directly from tweets. During this test, an entire purchase can be finished in a few taps. After tapping the Buy button, shoppers will get additional product details and be prompted to enter their shipping and payment information. Once that’s entered and confirmed, order information is sent to the merchant for delivery.

“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” the social network explained. “Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Twitter is already working with a diverse group of artists like Eminem, nonprofit organizations like RED, and brands like The Home Depot. The feature is particularly designed to sell limited-edition or time-sensitive products, such as event tickets or t-shirts. Considering the fast-paced, real-time nature of Twitter, a tweet doesn’t have a very long half-life. As such, we imagine that items with a temporal component or sense of urgency will fair well.

What You Need to Know About Twitter’s E-commerce Features

Also, unlike Twitter’s partnership with AmEx and Amazon, the Buy button will not require consumers to tweet a special hashtag in order to make a purchase. This means that the added bonus of brand or campaign exposure will not come built-in. However, the new commerce angle could still boost engagement among members by giving them more reason to stay on-site, as well as tweet about their newly purchased items.

Like with all tests, elements of the commerce feature can change based on partner and user feedback. But it will be interesting to see what kind of success early testers have with it. We’ll be sure to update you as case studies become available. In the meantime, if you’re looking for ways to boost commerce on Twitter, definitely consider integrating the Product Card into your next campaign. And for more inspiration, read some of our earlier articles on e-commerce brands using social media on Twitter as well as Facebook.