It's an impulse buyer's greatest dream -- or worst nightmare. Twitter and Amazon announced Monday that they've struck a new partnership that will allow shopping on Amazon via hashtag.
Under the new U.S. initiative, shoppers who link their accounts from the two companies will be able to pop products into their Amazon cart straight from Twitter by adding the #AmazonCart hashtag to any reply they make to tweets that contain an Amazon link. (In Britain, the magic e-commerce password is #AmazonBasket.)
After sending the tweet with the hashtag, shoppers will get a reply message from the @MyAmazon account and an e-mail from Amazon letting them know the item has been successfully added to their cart.
It's a convenient way to save items for later, but consumers should remember that Twitter isn't exactly a private forum. Unless you have your account set to private, it would be pretty easy to determine who is buying what. So you may want to keep your hashtag purchases limited to those that you don't mind others knowing about. And, in any case, your intent to purchase will be visible to the account to which you replied.
For marketers, it's a pretty compelling tool. It not only helps them see who is engaging with them on Twitter, but also gives them a snapshot of their most dedicated customers -- the ones who will say, publicly, that they want to buy their product. For Amazon, it's yet another avenue by which to reach customers and learn their shopping preferences.
And for Twitter, it's a toe-dip into the wider world of commerce -- an area where analysts and observers have said the company should focus its money-making efforts. For years, rumors have swirled that Twitter was working how to convert the free-flowing conversations between customers and companies on its service into a commerce channel. But while Twitter has launched some programs to score discounts and other offers, it has yet to deliver a compelling shopping experience.
The company has been taking a beating on the stock market since reporting its first-quarter earnings last week, which showed the micro-blogging service is growing its revenue but not its user base. After its earnings report April 29, the firm's shares plummeted to their lowest point since the company's initial public offering last year. Shares were slowly ticking back up Monday, trading at $39.23 in mid-morning, following the Amazon announcement.
The companies did not release much information on how they reached the deal. But Twitter is not seeing any revenue from the items added to Amazon carts via the hashtag, according to a statement from Amazon.
"Twitter offers a great environment for our customers to discover product recommendations from artists, experts, brands and friends," the statement said. "#AmazonCart was designed to help customers add products to their cart now without leaving Twitter and come back later to shop and buy on Amazon."
(Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.)