Sir. Will that be cash, credit... or Tweet?
In the near future, be prepared for a whole new way to pay.
Even after acquiring MoPub, 'the world's largest mobile ad exchange" and filing for an IPO with the SEC, it is still somewhat unclear where Twitter is headed. It is captivating to see how Twitter has gone from just another social network, to an emerging media player and possible news company, and now towards an advertising behemoth as well as a potential eCommerce player. While many analysts are focusing on the social networks potential as a lucrative ad resource and marketing tool, one of the overlooked aspects of Twitter's potential, which I view as their true calling, rests in the area of eCommerce.
Twitter is Embracing eCommerce
Nathan Hubbard, the newly appointed Head of Commerce and the former President of Ticketmaster, stated that his goal at Twitter is to, "enable shopping via short postings on its social website." One of the basic components of successful eCommerce involves a seamless process to browse items, add them to your cart, and purchase. If Twitter takes a comprehensive approach conducting transactions and seamlessly fulfilling orders, it will be a true shakeup for online shopping and the eCommerce industry as a whole.
Services like Chirpify are already making strides to unearth the eCommerce potential of Tweets. Described by Tech Crunch writer Rip Emson as "a sort of social payment Platform as a Service (PaaS)", the Chirpify platform allows for integration of an eCommerce site with Twitter to allow for social commerce transactions via hashtags. Empowering users to buy and brands to sell directly through their Tweets, Twitter can potentially bring about a drastic shift in the way customers experience online shopping.
Shopping Through Discovery
Above all else, social eCommerce is described as 'discovery,' as opposed to 'searching'. Rather than taking time to peruse through the countless items of a poorly designed eCommerce site, customers can hop on Twitter and allow the recommendation and targeting engine to suggest interesting products within their social feed. Chris Marentis, CEO of Surefire Social, pondered the idea of an eCommerce site "being able to Tweet special offers to people who just visited their website." Hypothetically, the brand can assess the interaction history of a given customer who failed to make a purchase and personalize a Tweet with an offer to capture the sale. Once they receive the offer via their feed, they can reply with #buy hashtag to make the purchase.
American Express has already moved forward in terms of social media delivered purchases through their partnership with Twitter. Members can sync their cards with their Twitter account to make purchases directly through hashtags. With the logistics for seamless payments via Tweet already worked out, it is a matter of time before Visa, MasterCard and other major card services opt in. While the advertising component is vital for the eCommerce potential on Twitter, there is a chance that this new tactic can become a standard strategy for eCommerce businesses hoping to increase sales. Capitalizing on such an instant way to make a purchase will lead to increased revenues for eCommerce businesses that execute it well.
Tweet-Commerce Should Not Be Discounted
There is an endless amount of research that equates an intuitive website design with increased chances for transactions. eCommerce developers often conduct multiple A/B tests to refine the placement of single buttons and minute changes to web layout. Overcrowded content, poor visuals, and superficial landing pages or calls to action can prevent sales from happening. Companies already spend tens of thousands of dollars optimizing their eCommerce site pages to increase transactions.
In eliminating the need to even visit the site, browse, and add items to a cart, companies can streamline the process through 140 character messages and instant hashtag replies. In essence, the buying process has been cut down drastically. Although Twitter eCommerce will not replace the need for professional websites and design services, it can potentially be an ideal option to better target customers with opportunities to buy in seconds.
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Himanshu is responsible for the strategic and overall business development of Icreon. He founded Icreon in 2000 and grew the company through a mix of acquisitions and organic growth. Under Himanshu's leadership, Icreon has grown to become a leading IT consultancy in its space working with some of the world's largest and most influential brands including National Geographic Channel, Fox, PepsiCo, Nokia Siemens Networks, and more.
A strong business-informed technologist, Himanshu has directed Icreon's heady growth through diverse economic climates, dot-com booms and busts, by maintaining a long-term view on relationships, keeping a close eye on the data and business dashboard, and by enabling informed decision-making. Himanshu is a natural entrepreneur. His first encounter with entrepreneurship was a comic rental business at the age of 13. Other ventures he started and exited successfully included an ERP consulting firm, an education-training institute, and a real estate trading business. He has also been as a technology advisor to boards of non-profits and SMBs in New York and globally.
Himanshu is part of the Owners and Presidents Program of Harvard Business School. He received his MBA in international business from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. Aside from his work and family, Himanshu is passionate about keeping up with the latest technology trends, physical fitness, and supporting entrepreneurship and the tech community.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT