Twitter wants you to shop while you tweet.
Starting Monday, the short-messaging service is going to test “buy” buttons in tweets.
A small percentage of U.S. users will see the buttons in the Twitter apps on iOS and Android.
Twitter says users taking part in the test will get offers and merchandise not available elsewhere. They can complete the transaction in a couple taps.
Artists, brands and nonprofits such as Burberry, DonorsChoose and Pharrell are among the accounts that will have tweets featuring a “buy” button.
“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” said group product manager Tarun Jain.
It’s the first major e-commerce initiative for Twitter since hiring former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard as head of commerce a year ago, shortly before the San Francisco company went public.
Commerce could create a new revenue source for Twitter, which as a publicly traded company is facing constant pressure to pump up sales
Twitter has been experimenting with e-commerce. It teamed with Amazon.com to let users add products to their shopping cart by responding to a product tweet with the hashtag #AmazonCart.
Facebook is also testing a feature that lets advertisers sell products directly through ads they buy on the social network.
And Pinterest users have demonstrated they are interested in buying products they pin on the service.
For all the promise social networks have seen in shopping, most efforts to get people to buy stuff while they chat with their friends have foundered.
Analysts say Twitter will likely face similar hurdles.
It is also launching its ecommerce bid amid the drumbeat of security breaches that have left the troubling impression with some U.S. consumers that technology companies are too lax about security.
Twitter says payment and shipping information is encrypted. But it also stores the information after your first transaction. You have to remove the information from your account if you don’t want Twitter to store it.
“This is going to be an uphill battle,” S&P Capital IQ analyst Scott Kessler said. “I applaud companies for taking risks and looking to innovate, but I am not so sure there is really demand there.”
Brian Blau, Gartner’s research director in consumer technologies, says that’s why Twitter is starting with a small test: to observe shopping patterns and gauge demand.
“That has been the question all along. A lot of people have experimented with shopping and social and a lot of those experiments have not worked,” Blau said. “Twitter is being prudent. It’s going to experiment to make sure the brands are offering the right kind of products and the right kind of buying experience.”