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Twitter Unclicks Buy Button

New sign of consumer reluctance to use social platforms for purchasing

January 19, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce | Social Media

Twitter is moving closer to ending its ecommerce efforts. The company is abandoning its buy button, a feature once seen not only as a potential key to unlocking ecommerce revenue on the site but as a harbinger of broader use of social commerce.

Likelihood that US Social Media Users Will Purchase Products via Social Media, Oct 2016 (% of respondents)

According to TechCrunch, customers of ecommerce platform Shopify have begun receiving notices telling them that the Twitter sales channel will be unavailable beginning February 1, 2017 "as a result of the Twitter team pivoting away from their ecommerce focus."

Twitter's withdrawal from social commerce has been a while in coming. In May 2016, the company announced it was disbanding its commerce team and curtailing development of the buy button.

In a November 2016 interview with eMarketer, Richard Alfonsi, then vice president of revenue product and operations at Twitter, who has since left the company, explained that Twitter couldn't justify investing heavily in buy buttons, and targeting and scale proved difficult, so it ended up folding the offering into its direct response product.

Consumers in the US have never really warmed up to the idea of making purchases on social sites. In October 2016, AYTM Market Research found that only one quarter of social media thought it was likely they make a purchase on a social platform.

However, Twitter does face different challenges when it comes to social commerce compared with other social networks. As eMarketer analyst Krista Garcia explained, "Twitter wasn't an ideal platform for ecommerce. Consumers tend to buy from more visual social media like Instagram or Pinterest, or are influenced by friends and family on Facebook. Most people likely think of Twitter as more 'newsy' than other networks, so they're not in shopping mode while scrolling."

—Alison McCarthy

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