Twitter and Apple Are Changing the Way We Shop

As many retail marketers shift their mindset from the dog days of summer to preparations for the forthcoming holiday season, two important announcements made this week remind us of the importance that both social and mobile marketing efforts continue play in driving sales.

For marketers, there is little doubt that social networks and an increasingly mobile world have changed the way we have to engage and market to our prospects and customers, but this week’s announcements from Twitter and Apple also highlight how these two channels will also revolutionize the way we purchase goods and services in the future.

Social Commerce and In-Stream Purchasing Goes Mainstream

It is estimated that social commerce will represent 5 percent of all online retail revenue by 2015 – that’s nearly $15 billion in the U.S. alone. While the majority of this commerce is driven via indirect engagement ( i.e. a like, tweet/retweet, pin, etc.), in-stream purchase initiatives are beginning to emerge and will likely go mainstream.

Take the emergence of the shoppable social hub that my colleague Mike O’Brien recently highlighted in his social commerce piece “Saks Beefs Up Social Commerce With the Shoppable Selfie.” Curated from fan pictures shared across multiple social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), Saks has created a social community that allows their customers to purchase stylish looks by providing links to the respective product pages directly from the photos. Additionally, the convergence between social networks and e-commerce is heating up in APAC, with e-commerce giant Alibaba developing its own social network for the second time and social networks like WeChat opening up shopping within the app.

More recently, and after months of speculation, Twitter announced Monday that it would begin testing a “Buy” button that can be embedded in posts to facilitate one-click purchasing. In coordination with this announcement, Twitter updated its terms of service and privacy policy to cover the use of its commerce offering. Look for this test to go mainstream with heavyweights like Facebook adding buy buttons as relevance and convenience fuels greater social commerce’s growth.

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Apple Pay: “Wallet, Your Days Are Numbered”

Apple’s mobile payments power play, Apple Pay, announced yesterday, will change the way we shop. It includes NFC, Touch ID, various secure elements, and integration into Passbook. With Apple Pay, Apple is creating an uber-mobile payments platform. The new payments technology will make transactions secure via a tokenization technology that scrambles credit/debit card details and it’s an effort that Apple has apparently been thinking about since 2009. With American Express, Visa, and MasterCard as its announced partners, Apple Pay works with the top bank issuers that handle more than 80 percent of the charge volume out there. Merchants such as Macy’s, Whole Foods, Disney, Walgreens, Toys-R-US, Staples, and more will support Apple Pay and the feature will be integrated into apps as well, including Target and Open Table, allowing users to use their app to pay for goods/services from the app.

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With these partnerships, and Pay’s integration into the new Apple Watch, Apple is poised to pounce on what is expected to be the largest and fastest-growing mobile revenue opportunity. According to Digi-Capital, m-commerce is expected to grow from $133 billion in 2013 to more than $516 billion in 2017. In addition, m-commerce will account for nearly three-quarters of the estimated $700 billion in mobile Internet revenues expected in 2017. With Apple’s entry into the mobile payments industry, expect adoption to accelerate rapidly, hoards of retailers like Disney, who will reportedly accept payments starting this holiday, sign on. There is little doubt that with Apple behind it customers will increasingly adopt this secure method as their preferred method of payment in the years to come.

So if you’re a marketer planning your 2014 holiday programs, use these announcements to plan accordingly and begin to incorporate and test these new commerce options into your bag of tricks as soon as possible. Pay will require retailers to support Apple’s mobile payment system and may require marketers to upgrade their iBeacons and NFC Scanners. Happy holidays!

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