Twitter Gets Into E-Commerce

Source: The New York Times. Bits

Twitter has long been considering e-commerce as one of its revenue models. On Tuesday it unveiled its first foray into selling products.

The company announced @earlybird Exclusive Offers, which will be time-sensitive deals on products and events that will appear on the @earlybird Twitter account. People can follow that account to get access to the deals.

The idea borrows from private and limited-time sale sites, like Gilt, Groupon and Woot (which Amazon.com recently acquired), a recent trend in online shopping. It also takes advantage of what companies like Dell, which attributes millions of dollars in sales to posting deals on Twitter, are already doing.

The deals could be on products, like iPods or diapers, or on events, like concert tickets or travel. In a post on a company blog, Twitter hinted that it could filter deals by category, like apparel or gadgets, in the future. Twitter stressed that it would be selective about which deals were offered and “try and make these deals interesting and of value to you.”

The retailers will determine the price of the items and how many are available. Twitter will earn money from the sales. It is experimenting with different models, like a cut of each sale or a fixed price per deal, said Sean Garrett, a Twitter spokesman. The retailers will collect shoppers’ credit card numbers and otherwise fulfill the transaction.

This is a different approach to e-commerce than the one we wrote about last year, in which retailers could offer transactions on the site based on what people are writing about. A running shoe retailer, for example, could offer shoes to people who asked about the best shoes for running on trails. This might still be possible with annotations, a new service that Twitter says it is rolling out soon so that people can add so-called metadata, like a way to make a purchase, to Twitter posts.

The first deal will appear soon, Mr. Garrett said. They will initially be nationwide, but Twitter is considering offering deals specific to cities or countries later on. If @earlybird takes off, Twitter could become a competitor to Groupon and the many other local daily deal sites, as well as to Woot, Gilt and others.


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