Despite being one of the world’s largest social networks, and boasting a user base in the hundreds of millions, Twitter have struggled to actually turn a profit. This year, for the first time ever, the company came out in the black, but only with a mere $9 million of profits, a miniscule amount for a company as big, and as heavily invested in as Twitter. In order to improve this situation the company needs to find new revenue streams, beyond its current advertising-based model.
Now it seems that it is becoming more and more likely that this second income stream will come through the channel of E-Commerce. Several users have noticed the appearance of a ‘Payment & Shipping’ option included as part of their Android Twitter app. This option could neither be selected nor clicked, rather appearing to a dormant button which hadn’t yet been fully coded. Such a function would be a necessary part of an E-Commerce platform, as it would be where a user would input their payment details.
This follows the discovery from Re/Code earlier this year, that some tweets were being sent out by Twitter with a ‘Buy Now’ button attached. These appeared in the lower right hand corner of tweets coming from Fancy.com, a product marketplace which utilizes social input and sharing to highlight popular products.
While Twitter has been rather stop-and-start when it comes to integrating new features, since their IPO, they now have greater impetus to deliver a profitable return to shareholders. E-Commerce integration would provide a new way in which Twitter could boost its revenues and represents a natural evolution of its advertising based revenue model.
Through the inclusion of ‘Buy Now’ buttons within tweets, Twitter could general additional revenue in several ways. Firstly it could charge merchants for the creation and maintenance of specially merchant accounts which would include the ‘Buy Now’ option in their tweets. Secondly Twitter could change merchants for the promotion of these tweets, treating them as a form of high-converting ads. Lastly, and perhaps least probably, they could also take a small percentage cut of each product sold through their service.
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