Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. are getting closer to letting people shop as they chat and share posts with friends on social networks.
Facebook is testing a “buy” button on browsers and mobile devices that lets users make purchases through advertisements, the world’s largest social network said in blog post yesterday. Separately, Twitter said it acquired CardSpring Inc., a service that lets users redeem deals and discounts through merchants’ tweets.
As competition between the sites heats up, they’re betting that goods and services displayed alongside posts are more likely to lead to impulse purchases, giving retailers and advertisers an opportunity to boost sales. Facebook, which has more than 1.2 billion users, has tried enabling purchases on its social network in the past, with limited success. Twitter and Amazon.com Inc., the largest online retailer, rolled out a joint service last month that lets members shop by hashtag.
Twitter’s acquisition of San Francisco-based CardSpring is the first major move by Nathan Hubbard, the former president of Ticketmaster, who was hired last year to find ways to let people buy goods directly from tweets. CardSpring lets people claim coupons or special deals via tweets, however it won’t enable the direct purchase of products. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Dick Costolo, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Twitter, has said that the social network is seeking to eventually offer “commerce in the moment.”
Facebook’s new buy button service is being tested in the U.S. with a few small and medium-sized businesses. Users’ credit- or debit-card information won’t be shared with other advertisers, the Menlo Park, California-based company said.
“We’ve built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure,” Facebook said in the blog post.
Facebook is testing the buy button even after saying earlier this year that direct purchases wouldn’t be the best strategy to serve marketers.
“We don’t have any plans to go into the direct e-commerce market because the advertising products we provide, I think, are the best thing we can provide to help grow this market,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on a conference call in January.