Amazon and Twitter have recently teamed up to let users shop through their tweets. The move may signal a fundamental change in the way that social media is used to market products. In the short term, the change will boost revenue for Twitter and Amazon, and make both platforms more attractive to business owners, though not in the way some would initially think. This post will discuss the new #AmaonCart feature, how to use it, and what it means for Twitter.
In a nutshell, the new feature from the two companies allows Twitter users to add items to their Amazon shopping cart by replying with #AmazonCart. Letting shoppers add items from Twitter without leaving the platform will encourage impulse buying (if you bought something after reading 140 characters, it’s mostly an impulse). Obviously, the user would need to do some setup to link the two accounts, so it’s not an automatically enabled feature. How much the hashtag gets used depends on how many people go through the effort to enable the simplified shopping option.
For business owners, taking advantage of this new feature is as easy as getting a product listed on Amazon and then tweeting the link. When customers reply to the link with #AmazonCart (in the U.K. it’s #AmazonBasket), they’ll get a reply from Amazon letting them know if the item was successfully added to their cart or if the item is out of stock. Users would still need to go to their Amazon account to do the checkout; the hashtag doesn’t initiate any payment process. The way this feature increases the ease of social sharing and shopping will attract business owners to Amazon who hadn’t used the platform before.
It isn’t clear if the feature will be expanded to other social networks, but comments from an Amazon spokesperson quoted by CNET leaves the possibly open.
“We are certainly open to working with other social networks,” said the Amazon spokeswoman. “Twitter in particular offers a great environment for our customers to discover product recommendations from artists, experts, brands and friends.”
The new feature is one of several big things that Twitter is trying to do to make their platform more popular and more profitable. Despite growing membership numbers, investors have not been overly pleased by the recent earnings posted by Twitter. One would think that teaming up with Amazon could become a much needed stream of revenue for the now publicly traded company, but they would be wrong. Interestingly, Twitter won’t receive a cut of the sales from the new #AmazonCart feature.
The collaboration between the two companies has a bigger branding significance for Twitter. Thus far Twitter’s main source of revenue has been selling promoted content and ads, which is a little under ambitious when compared to the multiple ways that LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube monetize their platforms. However, having a big-name partner like Amazon could bring more retailers to the platform and encourage them to spend more money on ads and promoted tweets.
Though this feature won’t allow Twitter users to pay for items directly through their feed, the feature is already available for American Express users who wish to buy certain products. As of last year, Amex users who have synced their accounts to Twitter can buy certain products directly from their user feed.
According to CNET, “American Express wouldn’t say how many people used the hashtag or how much merchandise was sold, but a spokeswoman did say that the items, which were offered at a discount, sold out quickly. These included a $95 Rebecca Minkoff purse that sold out during Fashion Week, and $25 American Express gift cards that cost $15 that sold out in the first 12 hours they were offered.”
There is also talk about a deal Twitter is working on that would allow the platform to accept credit card payments from users. Sources says the company is working with the payment startup Stripe.
In the first few days since the roll-out, only a few thousand of Amazon’s millions of users utilized the #AmazonCart feature, but a slow start is to be expected for such a novel feature. As more business owners and Amazon shoppers get accustomed to the system, it may become a popular way to shop.