In the past, the social media giant Twitter has primarily made revenue from online advertising. But now, the popular site is looking to enter the e-commerce sphere with Twitter Shops. This new feature will hypothetically allow businesses to showcase their products to visitors and prospective buyers through a Twitter-based online catalog. Once interested, visitors will be able to click on interesting products and be taken to that business’s online shop off Twitter.
This business shift is far from surprising, but it remains to be seen how Twitter Shops will work, whether it will be popular in the long term, and how it may affect e-commerce as a whole. This article will look at Twitter Shops and how this feature could evolve.
Twitter Shops – How It Works
Twitter Shops operates through the proprietary Twitter Shopping Manager. Through this entry point, merchants can set up and manage all the shopping features with the new platform extension. Note that the Shopping Manager is only available to managed partners with Twitter at the time of this writing.
Merchants can fill out a relatively large catalog via a CSV file. The file can contain up to 10,000 different products, including the names, descriptions, and prices. Once uploaded, merchants can showcase up to 50 products on their Twitter account profiles.
If a customer sees a product they’re interested in, they can click on the product icon. This takes the viewer to a product catalog page for the merchant still hosted on Twitter. Another click redirects the traffic to the retailer’s website for the purchase.
This new version of Twitter Shops is an extension of a previous experiment where Twitter allowed some brands to showcase up to five different products at the top of their profiles. But this newer and more extensive version of the same idea will act as a more direct test of Twitter’s viability in the e-commerce sphere.
Will Twitter Shops Be Good for Small Businesses?
Quite possibly. Many small businesses use Twitter to connect with their target audiences, answer questions, and boost brand recognition. By having a link directly to their online stores, they could see improvements in conversion rates and profits.
This is especially true if the business in question uses all-online payment systems, including fast payment gateways, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, or e-wallets like PayPal.
Does it Cost to Use Twitter Shops?
No, not at this time. However, Twitter Shops is still in beta testing. While merchants don’t need to pay to use Shops, for now, Twitter may launch the full version of the feature with a regular fee, like a subscription cost. Or it may decide to continue to offer Shops for free – it’s too soon to tell.
Who’s Using Twitter Shops?
For now, only a handful of vendors and retailers are allowed to use Twitter Shops during this extended beta test. These include companies like Verizon, Gay Pride Apparel, All I Do Is Cook, and more. More common e-commerce retailers are not allowed to use Twitter Shops for now.
But if and when Shops launches fully, it’s expected that any verified retailer or vendor profile on Twitter will be able to use the feature. Banking will likely be done through online banks or e-wallets such as PayPal. According to recent statistics, 42% prefer to use an online bank for running their small business finances anyway.
Twitter Shops vs. Instagram Shops
The primary difference between Twitter Shops and the storefronts of other social media platforms like Instagram is that Shops isn’t a full-on marketplace. For example, if a visitor purchases from a retailer’s Instagram shop, that purchase takes place on Instagram.
In contrast, Twitter Shops requires visitors to leave Twitter and visit a retailer’s website instead. This means e-commerce retailers need to have a separate site, but it also impacts where revenue goes. Since Twitter can’t take a cut of the profits through affiliate marketing (at least so far), it’s more likely that Shops will eventually require a fee from retailers that want to use the platform.
How Twitter Shops Could Change E-Commerce
As you can see from the above breakdown, Twitter Shops won’t dramatically change the e-commerce industry. Online stores and links to storefronts through social media platforms are nothing new. What Twitter is really trying to do is get a cut of the profitable e-commerce pie that other platforms like Facebook and Instagram already enjoy.
Still, the entry of a new competitor in this market could lead to big changes on other social media sites. Since Twitter is already a popular platform for regular discourse and consumer engagement, it could become a more popular alternative to Facebook. However, it’s unlikely that Twitter Shops will ever fully unseat Instagram from the throne of e-commerce shopping.
Will Twitter Shops “Work”?
It’s tough to say, especially since the full version of the feature has not been rolled out and released to all users.
One has to take Twitter’s brand identity and reputation into account. Right now, no one really thinks of Twitter as a place to engage with brands, shop for new items, or organically discover new purchases and interests. Instead, Twitter is primarily used for debate, discourse, and fan engagement.
Twitter may be trying to change this perception with the introduction of Shops, but it’s unlikely that Twitter’s efforts will be fully successful.
For example, Tik-Tok works well with e-commerce shopping and advertising because the nature of its content directly ties into product discovery. When viewing organic video content, a prospective shopper can notice a cool product, then immediately tap an icon to go to a purchase page.
In contrast, Twitter users don’t primarily use the platform to view video content, whether advertisements or influencer-type posts. While many will likely use Twitter Shops, at least initially, this core difference between Twitter and other social media platforms will get in the way of major market disruption.
But this opinion could be completely wrong! Twitter may prove that it has the e-commerce chops to outperform Facebook, Instagram, and Tik-Tok combined. We’ll have to wait and see!
When is Twitter Shops Expected to Launch Fully?
Twitter doesn’t have a specific launch date for Shops yet. But, given that the beta is in full swing, we expect Twitter Shops to launch sometime in 2023 at the earliest. Depending on technical difficulties or changes to the system, this could be pushed back to 2024.