Social media’s year-long experiment with “buy” buttons is shifting into high gear as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Pinterest incorporate impulse buying features into their websites. The four social networking leaders reportedly completed pilot tests and plan to make ‘buy’ buttons available to broader segments of the merchant community. While the brands did not disclose detailed test results, their collective march toward broader implementation validates consumer interest in purchasing products and services on social networking sites.
Ronald G. Mazursky, Managing Director of New York-based Marketing Innovations Inc. views buy buttons as a natural next step for blogging and social media sites that dispense information about products and services. Consumers are generally ready to make a purchase when they complete their research, he stated.
“Anything that reduces customer buying friction in the purchase process is a positive to the merchant and a positive to the customer,” he said. “Putting the buying decision at the point of discussion (with an expert or with someone who has firsthand knowledge of the product/situation) will only enhance the likelihood of the impulse sale.”
Payments embedded in relationships
Mazursky said Amazon Inc.’s patented 1-Click purchase method introduced in 2006 “works beautifully within their walled garden and oils the payment process.” He expects merchants and consumers to look for ways to expedite the buying process as payments get pushed further into the background, which he said will motivate financial institutions to push for their cards to be embedded into the buying decision.
“Merchants are still learning how to drive online spend,” Mazursky said. “Buy buttons are an important step toward monetization but only part of the answer.” He added that merchants will ultimately require multiple mechanisms to reach consumers. He cited Uber as an example of a company that successfully embedded payments into a product that people want to buy. Consumers don’t have to think about how they will pay because the payment product is already built into the relationship, he noted.
Enabling technology platforms
New embedded payment models have also opened up competition in the fintech space. Mbeddo, a European e-commerce platform with offices in London and Geneva launched a new social commerce platform on Aug. 26, 2015, calling it an “immersive solution whereby anyone with something to sell can upload a product, post it on their wall (and by extension anyone’s newsfeed) with a ‘Buy Now’ button.” The solution enables buyers and sellers to complete transactions without leaving the Facebook website. The service reimburses registered sellers every 14 days.
Canadian-based Shopify, with offices in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, has also been testing a buy button on social media news feeds that enables consumers to purchase products and complete transactions inside a news feed. The test, which initially began in 2014 in a limited pilot with Facebook, is being expanded into more markets following a successful trial run.
Twitter has also been testing the Shopify platform with 100,000 merchants since September, 2014 and has broader implementations planned. Product pages, introduced on Twitter in June 2015, direct targeted, personal advertising to customers with an invitation to buy. These pages, according to the company’s blog, will “show you images and a description right above the tweets that are most timely and relevant to you.” These images and references may originate in tweets from accounts that a consumer follows, related news items or similar, popular content.
After successfully adding advertising and sponsored posts to its website, Pinterest introduced the first ‘buyable pins’ in 2014, enabling in-app purchases. Macy’s, Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus are reportedly participating with Pinterest in a limited test of the blue “buy this” pins, which are adjacent to traditional red “pin it” buttons in the mobile app. Participating consumers can push the blue button to purchase pinned items. The buttons can be linked to credit cards or Apple Pay, the Pinterest stated.