Twitter has dissolved its commerce team and paused development on its Buy Button feature, reports Wall Street Journal. Apparently, some members of the commerce team have left the company and others have been absorbed into other teams. This development comes at a time when a number of questions are being raised against the social commerce push by major social media companies.
The microblogging platform first started testing the Buy Button feature in September 2014. It allowed users to discover products and offers and make direct purchases from within the Twitter app. The Buy Button essentially functioned like a mobile wallet. Once the payment and shipping information was entered, it was stored by Twitter so users didn’t have to reenter it every time. In October 2015, Buy Buttons were extended to a number of DIY ecommerce platforms like Bigcommerce, Demandware and Shopify, to enable their customers to offer a ‘Buy Now’ option to users, directly through Twitter. The platform also implemented the buy now option for new retailers and brands like Best Buy, PacSun and Adidas etc.
It’s worth noting that Twitter had started experimenting with what it called ‘Buy Now’ cards that allowed users to buy a product without leaving the app, in July 2014. In May that year, Twitter partnered Amazon to introduce the #AmazonCart service, which enabled Twitter users to add any product on Amazon’s Twitter feed to their Shopping Cart, and buy it later at a convenient time. In July the service was launched in India as well.
Monetization was one of the primary focus for Twiter under former CEO Dick Costolo, who stepped down in June 2015. The company had introduced a host of monetization products, including its Promoted Video platform, which the company had begun testing back in March 2014 in partnership with the NBA. This feature is aimed at advertisers and content creators looking to distribute video content through its platform.
This latest development is also a reflection of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey taking over the reins last year. In a letter to shareholders, following the Q1 2016 results, the company made it clear they will be focusing on its core strengths going forward. Mobile advertising remains its primary source of revenue, contributing 78.5% to total revenue in Q1 2016. At the end of Q1 2016, Twitter reported 310 million average monthly active users (MAU), up 3% year-over-year and compared to 305 million in the previous quarter. Mobile MAUs accounted for 83% of total MAUs.
Nikhil adds: Online businesses have two modes of monetization: transactions and advertising, and when the two of them mix, (advertising leading to purchases), it’s the holy grail for marketing. Advertising drives transactions drives advertising. It’s sad to see Twitter scrap an option that would have allowed it to drive transactions, not just advertising. Twitter didn’t really push this strongly enough, didn’t open it to allow anyone to sell (C2C, not just B2C) , and didn’t make it easy enough for people to sell. Now with transactions out the window, all Twitter has left is advertising. There it’s going to be a distant third to Google and Facebook, in terms of discovery platforms.