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Twitter's weird, bold plan to become an online shopping mall
The popular social-messaging service is partnering with American Express to let you make purchases just by tweeting
 
Forget QVC. Is Twitter the future of ultra-convenient shopping?
Forget QVC. Is Twitter the future of ultra-convenient shopping? Jan Haas/dpa/Corbis

Twitter, in its seemingly endless quest to effectively monetize itself, is looking across the internet to Amazon for a little inspiration. The social-messaging network now wants to become something of an e-tailer, and is partnering with American Express to let consumers purchase products by — you guessed it — tweeting.

The project is still in the experimental phase, but so far, here's what we know about how Amex Sync would work: Retailers would make deals with Twitter to sell specific products and services at a discount to Twitter users. Then on the consumer end, you'd link your Amex credit card with your Twitter handle. Once signed in, you'd send a tweet containing a special hashtag to make a purchase, something like #BuyAmexGiftCard25. A reply to @AmexSync confirms the purchase, and — tada! — you are now the owner of a $25 American Express Gift Card.

Twitter believes this initiative could help the company diversify its revenue streams, which are currently heavily reliant on advertising. "We're convinced that commerce is going to be one of the areas (for which) advertisers are going to start using our platform," Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s vice president of global brand strategy, told The Wall Street Journal. It's unclear, however, if or how much of a cut Twitter will take from each transaction.

But tweets could just be the beginning. According to All Things D, Amex is bringing the initiative over to Facebook, Foursquare, and Microsoft's Xbox Live, too.

So what's in it for you? Discounts on a range of products — Amex gift cards, Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon, jewelry from designer Donna Karan, and the like. Of course, that means you'll have to openly advertise to your followers what it is you're buying, which many consumers will understandably see as a dealbreaker. 

For marketers, it establishes that almighty link between the mysterious value of a tweet and a measurable purchase at the end of the online retail funnel. Expect the service to roll out slowly over the next few days.

 

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