Facebook users will soon be able to open up the one part of their lives previously closed off to the social network: their wallets.
Facebook announced this week that they are testing a new button that would allow users to purchase items right from their newsfeeds. Using the new “buy” button, which will be embedded into advertisements and promoted content from participating retailers, users will be able to make purchases and take advantage of special discounts without ever having to leave Facebook’s site.
That’s great news for impulse shoppers. Or terrible news, depending on your perspective.
But Facebook isn’t just focused on our lack of will power. Integrating a robust, streamlined e-commerce tool into Facebook’s wildly profitable advertising platform is a logical move for the social network giant – and one they have unsuccessfully attempted in the past. Not only would it lure more retailers to advertise on one of the world’s highest-trafficked websites, but it also has the potential to unlock an entirely new component of the business. Who knows, this could become another major reason users flock to Facebook.
Not to be outdone, Twitter also announced this week that they are working on a new feature that will give users instant access to special deals and promotions – and potentially allow them to purchase products directly from their feeds.
Twitter’s new tool looks like it will leverage the technology offered by recent acquisition, CardSpring. With CardSpring, users can access promotions that have been programmed directly into apps. They can then add those promotions to their credit or debit cards and automatically apply them to in-store purchases.
Aside from the commercial viability of these programs, perhaps the most central question will be how much user financial data Facebook and Twitter share and store. This is especially true for Facebook, which has often grappled with user privacy and data manipulation concerns. The company maintains that privacy will remain a primary concern as they test the new buy button, but just think what a powerful retail tool this would be if Facebook shares user-specific data with retailers.
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