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Twitter Inc. has launched a new feature for e-commerce, sticking a big “Buy” button next to an image within a tweet. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it might give the social platform a new source of income, instead of having to rely on advertising and marketing to generate revenue.

According to a story published in The Verge today, Twitter will ask users for their billing and shipping information just once. After that, when users are within the app or on its web service, they’ll be able to click once and automatically making purchases. The service will only be in the U.S. to start, with just a limited group of partners, although celebrities like Pharrell and major brands like Home Depot are also on board, the company announced on its blog.

Example of the Twitter Buy Now button. (Image: Twitter).
Example of the Twitter Buy Now button. (Image: Twitter).

“There are already transactional conversations happening every day on our platform between brands and their customers or artists and their fans,” said Nathan Hubbard, Twitter’s head of commerce, to The Verge. “What we’re trying to do is build the shortest path between an offer and a completed sale, to eliminate the friction of clicking a link that takes you to another website where you might have to type in a whole bunch of information each time.”

He added he hopes this new commerce feature will create a “new kind of sales.” That could be handy for, say, artists or bands who want to sell last-minute tickets for shows, or food trucks who need to sell their food during the lunch hour rush. Or in the case of a news event, like a natural disaster, Twitter users might be able to donate money directly via a tweet about the story. 

Still, one of the best use cases for the Buy Now button might be in the realm of digital goods. Tech investor Rick Heiztmann told The Verge he believes Twitter users may be attracted to things like articles, books, games, movies, and so on. If a brand tweets a sample of it, users might be enticed to buy the rest.

While Facebook has done well with selling digital goods, when it tried to sell physical goods, it had less success. In September 2012, the company launched Facebook Gifts, encouraging users to buy gifts for their friends on occasions like their birthdays. However, as it didn’t get much traction, Facebook shut down the service this year.  So it remains to be seen whether Twitter can make commerce take off – especially as the social network continues to tweak the experience and to see if users will bite.

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