Twitter Adds Shopping Feature for Shopify Merchants

Twitter Inc.

TWTR 0.18%

and

Shopify Inc.

SHOP 5.40%

said they are teaming up to make it easier for people to buy items that Shopify merchants post on Twitter.

Shopify merchants will be able to display and automatically update up to 50 items for sale on their Twitter profile, the companies said Wednesday. Users will be able click on items and be directed to the merchant’s website to complete a purchase.

The feature, which Twitter has been testing with a small number of users, will be offered widely and at no cost starting Wednesday.

The setup doesn’t go as far as features offered by other platforms including

Meta Platforms Inc.’s

Facebook and Instagram, which allow shoppers to complete purchases without leaving the apps. Businesses that Twitter surveyed said they preferred to stay in control of the purchasing process, a Twitter spokeswoman said.

The initiative represents an effort by both companies to boost their so-called social-commerce offerings. Shopify, which allows users to create websites to sell their products, wants to give merchants access to services that will enable more shopping via social media.

Twitter and Shopify declined to provide financial details of their partnership.

Shopping is becoming a key feature for many social-media platforms, helping to drive engagement and generate revenue. ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, for example, takes a small percentage of sales generated on its shopping channel as a fee. Facebook and Instagram don’t charge fees, although the platforms encourage business users to buy “promoted” posts to boost their visibility and to draw customers.

Twitter has been lagging behind rivals such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and

Snap Inc.’s

Snapchat in social commerce, analysts say.

Investment bank

Piper Sandler

estimates that the U.S. social-commerce market could total $168 billion by 2027, more than four times the $37 billion in transactions in 2021. The U.S. market is much smaller than China, where merchants recorded an estimated $352 billion in social-commerce sales last year, according to Piper Sandler.

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Social commerce has become a growing avenue for sales made by Shopify merchants. Orders placed from social apps like Snapchat,

Spotify Technology SA’s

Spotify, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram quadrupled in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, Shopify said. The company declined to break out the exact figures.

Businesses using Shopify’s software sold $43.2 billion in goods during the first quarter. Shopify President

Harley Finkelstein

told analysts in May that shopping on social networks accounted for a small percentage of the gross merchandise volume from the company’s merchants.

“It hasn’t been a needle mover in the past, but it is increasingly becoming one,” said

Tom Forte,

an analyst with research firm D.A. Davidson, about revenue that Shopify merchants generate through social media.

Ottawa-based Shopify has been working on the project for several months, and tested it with Los Angeles-based makeup retailer Trixie Cosmetics, said

Kaz Nejatian,

Shopify’s vice president of merchant services. Other Shopify merchants will be able to turn on the Twitter channel Wednesday.

Trixie followers on Twitter have been able to click items on a carousel of products and go directly to the company’s online store to buy them. Trixie also has shopping enabled on its pages on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and

Alphabet Inc.’s

YouTube, said

Jessica Stevens,

Trixie’s creative director.

“The fewest clicks it takes to get to our website, the better,” she said.

Twitter, which recently agreed to be bought by Elon Musk, has made boosting commerce on its platform a priority. The company said last year that it wanted to double its annual revenue from the $3.7 billion it made in 2020 to $7.5 billion by 2023.

In the first quarter of this year, about $1.11 billion of the company’s $1.2 billion in revenue came from its advertising business. Twitter has been experimenting with features that help businesses showcase products through their profiles as well as enabling live shopping streams through the platform.

Write to Vipal Monga at [email protected]

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