What direct e-commerce on Twitter means for your business

     

iStock_000030408368_XXXLarge-2Twitter is known for its constant innovation in the effort to improve its user experience, so it's no surprise that rumors of it offering shopping services are beginning to fly in earnest. The Next Web's Jon Russell reported on a tweet sent by one user that contained a screenshot of a new setting labeled "Payment & shipping." Clicking on it didn't do anything - yet - but in any event, it's likely a sign of shopping to come on one of the world's largest social networks. As Twitter seeks to expand its service offerings, it's a good moment to reflect on the increasing overlap between e-commerce and social media.

For a while now, many companies have used social media for customer service and outreach. It's a quick and easy way to connect with current and potential consumers, answer questions and build a powerful brand image. There are horror stories, of course, of organizations in which a rogue or poorly trained employee didn't exactly make the company look good, but businesses are becoming more savvy negotiating the Twitterverse. In fact, customer service management is likely the main activity people visit a company's page for - a 2013 J.D. Power study found that 67 percent of consumers have used a social media site for customer service, while only 33 percent have utilized one for social marketing. Of course, good customer service is good marketing on its own. 

Meshing social media approaches with e-commerce goals
Twitter's efforts to introduce direct shopping on the site speak to the fact that convergence is the name of the game when it comes to e-commerce. Consumers don't want to be limited in the actions they can perform - basically, if the social media service, or any other digital tool, offers a feature, your business should look into using it. Whether that means adjusting customer service strategies or focusing on back-end integration, putting the company in a position to be more direct and responsive is crucial. This means removing barriers that could dissuade a customer from continuing a purchase, and at the same time giving them ample opportunity to reach the buying decision from a customer journey of their own choosing. 

If Twitter follows through with direct shopping, purchasing and shipping from its website, it will be a definite advantage for the site, but it's not exactly revolutionary. It's the clear next step in an e-commerce environment that plays an active role in shaping the customer journey, from the initial perusal to the helpful customer service advice. Omni-channel commerce isn't just about having all the channels available - it's about making sure that they're all working in concert toward a singular purpose. 

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