Is This What Twitter Commerce Will Look Like?
Twitter is getting serious about commerce on its service. So much so that it looks as though soon you’ll be able to buy goods for sale directly from a tweet.
The microblogging service is close to finalizing a deal with payment services company Stripe, which would likely handle the back-end processing for making purchases on Twitter.
As for the front end: Twitter looks likely to partner with at least one online commerce site, Fancy.com, which will let users purchase products inside the Twitter app and website, according to documentation discovered by Re/code. It is part of a new program called Twitter Commerce, according to these documents.
Re/code discovered the documents on the open Web through a public section of Fancy.com’s website that was not password protected. The images have not been verified by Twitter or Fancy.
A source with direct knowledge of Twitter’s commerce plans said that the documents were mockups created by Fancy.com, which presented Twitter with a version of what its Commerce product could look like. Twitter is also in discussion with other similar partner sites regarding its Commerce plans, according to this person.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment. A Fancy spokesperson was not immediately reachable.
As the screenshots show, the Twitter Commerce tweets will appear inside of Twitter users streams, much like the company’s Promoted Tweet advertising products. Some Commerce tweets will also show up inside Twitter’s Discover section, which shows off a mix of activity from a user’s network of people they follow (including, interestingly enough, products that people you follow have purchased, according to the screenshots). Expand the tweet, and you’ll see photos of the product for sale, along with a description of the item and a section for related products for purchase.
From there, you’re prompted to enter your name, address and credit card information, all “handled securely within the Twitter app,” according to the documentation.
And finally, it looks as if Commerce customers may be able to track the shipping status of their order on a map, and receive shipping updates. This feature, though, might be strictly for merchants selling through Fancy.
The new product comes after a long history of Twitter virtually neglecting commerce options on its service (aside from a few exceptions which weren’t widely adopted by the public). Twitter has also built and shelved multiple commerce-related products in the past, according to two people familiar with the matter.
But the renewed interest in Commerce comes on the heels of a closely watched initial public offering, where questions were raised about Twitter’s ability to add revenue streams in the future. Shortly before the company went public, Twitter hired ex-Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard to run the company’s commerce efforts.
It’s worth noting that Facebook has also toyed with letting users buy things directly from Facebook with little success. Facebook killed physical gifts sales on its platform late last year, after the service saw little demand.
It is not clear when the company will finally launch Twitter Commerce or how many partners will join in the launch.
It’s also unclear what fees or percentage of sales on its platform Twitter will take, if any. However, the company could directly benefit from retailers purchasing Promoted Commerce Tweet ad products. And if Twitter is able to hold on to users’ name, address and credit card information, that could benefit the company as well.
The same-day delivery option seen in the documentation is likely specific to Fancy, which started offering the service last year. But it’s costly: $29.95 according to information on Fancy.com.
Fancy, which has raised more than $75 million in funding, is essentially an online catalog of products. Some are uploaded by its users, and some by merchants hoping to sell through the service. Its product mix skews higher end, and it is believed to rely on referrals from social networks such as Twitter for a decent chunk of traffic, making it a natural early partner for this initiative.
Also this: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is a Fancy board member.
Take a look at the entire user flow, in pictures, below.
Update 7:59 pm ET: The section of Fancy.com in question was locked with a password after Re/code contacted the company for comment.