Are you ready to buy hiking boots on Twitter?

Sarah McCammon Aug 28, 2013
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Are you ready to buy hiking boots on Twitter?

Sarah McCammon Aug 28, 2013
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Here’s a tweet you might’ve seen: former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard announced – on Twitter, of course – that he’s joining the social network as Head of Commerce.

Analysts say it’s a logical move for Twitter. After all, the social network is kind of like Santa Claus. It knows what you’ve been doing; it knows when you’re awake.

“It knows all the tweets you’d made,” says Darpan Munjal, co-founder of online retailer fashionara.com. “So it’s somehow able to understand what are the things that you might like.”

For instance, he says, you might tweet about the hiking trip you’re planning next week, and Twitter could point you to a company selling outdoor gear.

But how would that work? Twitter will have to figure that out, says Sucharita Mulpuru. She’s a retail analyst with Forrester Research.

“The challenge for Twitter is, how are you going to make money off these commerce companies?” she says. “How do you become like Google?”

Mulpuru says Twitter has experimented with sponsored tweets and partnered with companies like American Express for special offers. E-commerce consultant Sallie McKenzie says Twitter will have to prove to retailers that it can help them find customers.

“And to consumers, Twitter’s really going to need to prove that it’s really a fun and interesting and easy place to shop,” McKenzie says.

The challenge, analysts say, is to do it without annoying users who are already tired of ads. As Twitter tries to become a bigger player in e-commerce, Mulpuru says you can expect to see more experimentation in your feed.

“We’ll see a lot of things thrown against the wall,” she says. “And we’ll see if anything resonates.”

And if it does, Twitter might be able to turn its millions of users into hundreds of millions of dollars.

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