Twitter adds in-app storefront and expanded product display for brands

The news: Twitter is testing Twitter Shops, a feature that will let merchants showcase up to 50 products on their profiles, per a company blog post.

More on this: The tool is free to use and is currently available to select US brand partners, including Verizon and Arden Cove.

Twitter Shops is an expansion of the company’s existing Shops Module, which lets brands highlight up to five products on their business profile.

  • In addition to the Shops Module, Twitter introduced live shopping last year, bringing its social commerce tools closer in line with those of competitors.
  • But unlike shopping on Instagram and Facebook, Twitter doesn’t enable native checkout. Instead, would-be buyers are directed from the Twitter Shop to the brand’s website via an in-app browser, where they can complete the transaction.

Not a natural fit: Despite Twitter’s interest in building out social commerce as a revenue stream, the social media company’s chances of rivaling Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok as a commerce platform to be reckoned with are slim.

  • Twitter said it wants to enable merchants to “build upon the product discussions already happening on our service by giving shoppers a point of action where a conversation can become a purchase.”
  • As of June 2021, only 7% of US social media users reported making a purchase through Twitter, per our 2021 “Digital Trust in Social Commerce” report.
  • But all it takes is a few successful use cases to justify Twitter’s investment into social commerce. Even if adoption is low, Twitter can still point to the potential for increased website traffic and incremental revenues to convince brands to sign on.

#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt: Unlike Twitter, Meta has made social commerce a priority for its platforms going forward as privacy updates crimp its ad revenues. But it’s TikTok that’s really driving the social commerce trend forward—viral content that appears on the platform fuels consumption and influences product trends.

  • While Twitter isn’t in a position to challenge TikTok as the place where trends are born, it does have a highly engaged user base, which if leveraged effectively could drive sales and brand interactions.

The big takeaway: Social commerce in the US is still nascent, which makes now the ideal time for brands to start experimenting to see which platforms, features, and strategies are best for them. Even if Twitter’s functionalities lag behind those of other platforms, it’s still a valuable—and relatively low-stakes—testing ground that can yield valuable insights.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast