Twitter's recently announced launch into the online commerce space has gotten a lot of buzz, as practically any move Twitter makes these days does. The ability to buy directly from a tweet seems to be the natural extension of Twitter's card capability, and a clear response to the pressure to monetize social conversations. However, on closer inspection, the Twitter experience may not ultimately create fans among retailers and their customers. Why? Just look at the answers to these three questions:
2. Who services the customer? Everyone knows that buying online inevitably leads to a return or exchange? In fact, sometimes when my friends purchase shoes they buy two sizes to ensure they get the one that fits properly. Will Twitter process the returns and credit? Occasionally, a merchant mixes up my order and sends me the wrong goods, or bills me for something I didn't receive. If I buy from Twitter, who will I call to make things right? The merchant? Twitter? My credit card company? The lack of transparency around how Twitter plans to handle problems with fulfillment and returns could create hurdles to purchase for consumers, especially in the wake of credit card theft with more trusted merchants like Target and Home Depot.
3. Who bills the credit card? Recently, Squarespace, the platform behind this site, switched to billing through Stripe, the processor now working with Twitter. One day my Amex bill showed a monthly charge under the name "Stripe", prompting me to call Amex about the potential fraud for a charge I didn't recognize, only to discover it was placed on behalf of Squarespace. Combined with my first point about who owns the customer, As far as the credit card company is concerned, Stripe was the merchant who billed.
Online shopping depends on a trusted relationship between the consumer and the merchant. However, with the introduction of the Buy button, there are now a number of platforms involved in disintermediating that relationship when purchasing through Twitter, and it is hard to imagine that this trusted relationship will remain unaffected by the social giant participating in - and actually managing - these transactions on behalf of well-loved retail brands.