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Twitter Gives Social Shopping a Second Shot

Twitter is taking another stab at social shopping.

The move comes seven years after the social media powerhouse unveiled its first commerce initiative. The feature, which let users buy goods from shoppable tweets, didn’t get far. Less than three years later, it confirmed it was doing away with the buttons.

In the meantime—largely since the pandemic turbocharged the e-commerce market—a swath of rivals has taken up similar endeavors. In May last year, Facebook announced it was launching a new Shop feature on both its namesake app and Instagram, its photo-centric subsidiary. This May, Snapchat expanded its in-app stores—for a year, available only to a limited selection of brands—to everyone. The same month, Bloomberg reported TikTok was testing in-app sales in Europe.

Now, it appears Twitter wants back in.

On Wednesday, it unveiled the “Shop Module.” The feature, it said, will sit in a dedicated space at the top of a business’ profile and offer a scrollable carousel of products, each of which can be bought in an in-app browser.

Social commerce solves the agility challenges brands have experienced within other e-commerce platforms,” Eric Dahan, CEO of influencer marketing agency Open Influence, said. “Moving forward, we don’t expect this evolution of e-commerce to slow down. Sixty-four percent of small businesses plan to continue their new e-commerce strategies in 2021.”

For now, Twitter is piloting the feature with just a small “handful” of brands, including GameStop and bag maker Arden Cove. According to Twitter, just people in the U.S. who use the app in English on iOS devices will be able to see it.

Though Twitter had teased a return to commerce back in March, the full announcement only arrived this week in a blog post written by revenue product lead Bruce Falck.

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“We believe in the power of the conversations that Twitter facilitates around products,” Falck wrote. “With this pilot, we’ll get to explore how our engaged, responsive and chatty audience reacts to products that are emotionally charged— like a new jersey from your favorite sports team—or that provide lasting impact—like a new skincare regimen. And, fundamentally, it’ll give us the chance to keep learning about which shopping experiences people prefer on Twitter.”

When exactly Shop Modules—described as “in very early explorations”—would roll out to other sellers and users is unclear. After Twitter introduced its Buy button in 2014, it took a whole year, according to TechCrunch, before it expanded the service to partners like Shopify.

Falck said Twitter plans to create “deeper partnerships with businesses that reflect whom we’re building for” via a Merchant Advisory Board. The group, which would consist of the “best-in-class examples of merchants on Twitter,” would serve as a way for the company to address the needs of partners “of any size or vertical,” he added.