Yesterday Twitter announced on its blog that it had started testing the use of a “Buy” button feature on tweets. The add-on allows users to initiate a purchase or buy a product or service by tapping on a button that is attached to a tweet from a service provider.
The service is still being tested on a small percentage of users in the US, with Twitter working with a small number of test partners. A tap on the button gets you information on the product and a prompt for payment and shipping information. Enter the proper details (Twitter has made assurances on security here) and the product is delivered.
This idea of the service and its test is hardly new though. in terms of announcement Twitter is actually following in the heels of a similar service test that Facebook announced mid July, complete with all the bells and whistles (US test cases also) on this Twitter experiment.
So is Twitter’s own forward approach to this “tap to buy” approach an proof that commerce through social networks is on the horizon?
The jury is still definitely out on that one as the “testing the waters” approach from Twitter and social media giant Facebook suggests that its not so easy to assume this will work.
If it does take off in the US the next frontier is the global market where Facebook particularly has a tremendous footprint. In Africa Facebook has 100 million monthly users with over 80% on mobile devices. That’s an impressive potential market to work with assuming that the right structures are in place.
The successes in Africa or any other market will likely hinge on how it is sold, particularly in instances where e-commerce and online purchasing is a different animal all together. Some relevance to previous online purchasing efforts has to be drawn first.
For most of Africa, any whiff of e-commerce and e-tailing has to consider the mobile commerce perspective. In the Zimbabwean context for instance, any mention of credit card details won’t get you far if you want to dominate the small market.
However if you bring in an m-commerce angle through mobile money options this means tapping into the wallets of famously touted “previously unbanked”. Perhaps a Facebook and Twitter “Buy” button with an integrated local payment solution will work in such a case.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves for now. It’s still an experiment after all.