What started as 140 characters and morphed into a destination platform for news and information as well as engagement with friends and like-minded individuals — is now embracing shopping.
Twitter on Thursday announced Shop Module, a dedicated space atop a business’s profile where it can showcase its products and Twitter users can easily click through to see or purchase those products.
“When people visit a profile with the Shop Module enabled, they can scroll through the carousel of products and tap through on a single product to learn more and purchase — seamlessly in an in-app browser, without having to leave Twitter,” the company said in a blog post announcing the service.
Twitter said it was starting small — with just a handful of brands in the U.S. — and it will evaluate the reaction from users.
“We believe in the power of the conversations that Twitter facilitates around products. With this pilot, we’ll get to explore how our engaged, responsive and chatty audience reacts to products that are emotionally charged — like a new jersey from your favorite sports team — or that provide lasting impact — like a new skincare regimen. And, fundamentally, it’ll give us the chance to keep learning about which shopping experiences people prefer on Twitter,” the company added.
Twitter will also create a Merchants Advisory Board consisting of brands that have “established themselves as best-in-class examples of merchants on Twitter,” it said.
Social commerce has become big business for the leading social platforms, and the brands that use them. According to the “IAB Brand Disruption 2021” report, physical retail store closings tripled in 2020 while e-commerce sales as a share of overall retail grew between five and seven times faster than pre-COVID levels to account for about 23% of sales by December 2020.
In 2020, the top 200 advertisers supplied 88% of all U.S. network television revenue; but on Facebook alone, there are more than 10 million individual advertisers. IAB pointed out that digital channels are clearly benefiting small and midsize brands. To illustrate, it pointed to the cosmetic retail segment, in which 20 manufacturers drove 96% of all traditional retail sales. Conversely, those same 20 only held 14% of the e-commerce cosmetic segment.
To reach this increasingly digital audience, brands are throwing money at the problem. Statista projects the retail industry will spend $35.48 billion in digital advertising this year, up more than $7 billion from 2020 and nearly double what was spent in 2017. Across all industries, digital ad spend is expected to reach $172 billion this year.
Polly Wong, president of Belardi Wong, a direct mail company for top brands such as Parachute, Levi’s, Untuckit, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and more, said that brands need to maintain their focus on what drives sales.
“Most DTC [direct-to-consumer] brands are focused on performance-based marketing, which means every dollar spent needs to yield revenue,” she told Modern Shipper. “For that reason, marketers are more likely to focus on tactics that are focused on selling rather than branding or other soft messaging tactics.”
Wong noted that extensive research has proved that reaching the target audience, regardless of whether that is through online or offline means, drives higher conversion rates.
“Most DTC brands with stores are focused on supporting e-commerce while also driving consumers to stores, allocating marketing dollars to both tactics,” she said.
Companies like Dunkin’ — the Massachusetts-based coffee and donut chain — and Walmart, though, are finding success on social platforms. In the case of Dunkin’, it is through branding with influencers. Walmart has hosted livestreamed TikTok events, one in December 2020 that resulted in a 25% increase in TikTok followers.
A 2020 Influence Central survey of 475 U.S. consumers found 19% had tuned in to a livestreamed shopping event, with 86% having done so on Facebook and 30% on Instagram. The majority of consumers — 60% — said the live demos and product walk-throughs were the biggest draw.
TikTok has a partnership with Shopify, and Facebook offers Marketplace for e-commerce brands.