New York: Facebook and Twitter are getting closer to letting people shop as they chat and share posts with friends on social networks.
Facebook is testing a "buy" button on browsers and mobile devices that lets users make purchases through advertisements, the world's largest social network said in blog post on Thursday. Separately, Twitter said it acquired CardSpring, a service that lets users redeem deals and discounts through merchants' tweets.
As competition between the sites heats up, they're betting that goods and services displayed alongside posts are more likely to lead to impulse purchases, giving retailers and advertisers an opportunity to boost sales.
Facebook, which has more than 1.2 billion users, has tried enabling purchases on its social network in the past, with limited success. Twitter and Amazon.com, the largest online retailer, rolled out a joint service last month that lets members shop by hashtag.
Twitter's acquisition of San Francisco-based CardSpring is the first major move by Nathan Hubbard, the former president of Ticketmaster, who was hired last year to find ways to let people buy goods directly from tweets. CardSpring lets people claim coupons or special deals via tweets, however it won't enable the direct purchase of products. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
"People on desktop or mobile can click the 'Buy' call-to-action button on ads and page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook," the California-based Internet titan said in an online post.
Potential to drive retail sales
The intent was to gauge the potential to drive retail sales through the Facebook news feed or on pages at the online social network, the post indicated. Credit or debit card information will be safeguarded by Facebook, which will provide the option of storing personal financial information to make future purchases speedier, according to the social network.
Gartner analyst Brian Blau viewed the experiment as an effort by Facebook to find out how easy and desirable it can make shopping on the social network.
"I think it is foreshadowing a time in the future when Facebook is going to be more serious about commerce," Blau said.
"They have repeatedly tried to figure out the best angle for them."
Facebook in the past has dabbled with ways its members could send real-world gifts to friends or make donations to causes.
Dick Costolo, chief executive officer of San Francisco- based Twitter, has said that the social network is seeking to eventually offer "commerce in the moment."
Facebook's new buy button service is being tested in the US with a few small and medium-sized businesses. Users' credit- or debit-card information won't be shared with other advertisers, the Menlo Park, California-based company said.
"We've built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure," Facebook said in the blog post.
Facebook is testing the buy button even after saying earlier this year that direct purchases wouldn't be the best strategy to serve marketers.