Twitter trials shopping feature on brands' profile

Shortly after retiring its Fleets function earlier this month, Twitter is taking on the social commerce scene by trialling its “Shop Module” function, a dedicated space at the top of a profile where businesses can showcase their products. A profile with the Shop Module enabled would allow users to scroll through the carousel of products and tap through on a single product to learn more and purchase, within an in-app browser without leaving the app. Through this, Twitter is exploring how shippable profiles can create a pathway from talking about and discovering products on Twitter to actually purchasing them.

The feature aims to better support shopping directly from the platform. It had previously explored this in 2015 through the “Buy Now” button, product pages and product collections, which it later dropped in 2017. The Shop Module feature will only be available to a handful of brands in the US, viewable by people in the US who use Twitter in English on iOS devices.

Social commerce in the US is currently dominated by Facebook, according to a study by eMarketer. The study expects 22.3% of US Internet users to make at least one purchase on Facebook this year. Meanwhile, 12/9% of Internet users and 5.6% of them are predicted to purchase from Instagram and Pinterest respectively. Overall, US social commerce sales are expected to rise by 35.8% to US$36.62 billion in 2021. That said, eMarketer noted that it still lags behind China when looking at social commerce as a percentage of total eCommerce sales. Compared to China's 13.7%, social commerce is predicted to form only 4.0% of the US retail eCommerce market.

Last May, Facebook launched Shops on Facebook and Instagram to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Consumers were also allowed to message a business through WhatsApp and Instagram Messenger to receive support. Months later, it extended the shopping option to WhatsApp Business. Seeing an opportunity in the social commerce space, Pinterest also made a move into the scene last month with its "Shopping List" function. It aims to take the "best of offline shopping and bringing it online", by allowing users to have their product Pins automatically saved in one place. This aims to make it easier for users to come back and shop the items they’ve been eyeing when they’re ready to buy, "just like they would in their favourite local shops", said Pinterest. Snapchat was reportedly one of the first social platforms to enter the eCommerce scene, having launched its feature in 2016.

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