Twitter is introducing e-commerce into its tweets. The “buy this product” button has been rumored for months, but Monday it was confirmed by the social media network. An initial test batch of mobile users will be able to purchase within a tweet itself, without ever leaving the application. Down the line, Twitter will expand it to desktop and more users. The “buy” button is being tested out in the Twitter wild with three initial partners – social shopping platform Fancy, art and digital content marketplace Gumroad and music merchandise site Musictoday. Twitter announced a range of individual sellers with the partnership, from Demi Lovato to Home Depot to Burberry.
Twitter is now testing a system, long in the works, that lets businesses embed “Buy” buttons in their tweets, so that you can instantly purchase products through the popular social networking service. According to the company, a “small percentage” of Twitter users in the U.S. will start seeing the Buy button today, and this percentage will grow as time goes on. Earlier reports indicated Twitter was developing such a system, and apparently, non-working Buy buttons appeared on the service this summer, but this is the first time the company has publicly acknowledged efforts to transform its social networking service into a kind of e-commerce engine. “This is an early step,” the company says in a blog post, “in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun.” According to company spokesman Jim Prosser, Twitter has been “dogfooding” the technology inside the company, but it has not turned on Buy buttons for public use until now. Prosser makes a point of saying that tweets embedded with Buy buttons needn’t be advertisements, or “sponsored tweets,” meaning businesses needn’t pay to give them prime placement in front of the public at large. But the move is designed to make Twitter more attractive to outside businesses—and keep users on the service—and naturally, this helps drive advertising dollars.