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Why 2015 is the Year of the Buy Button

Facebook Analytics, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Twitter Analytics

If you’ve ever bought anything on Amazon, it’s a good bet that at some point, you made an impulse buy with an ambivalent mouseclick. Amazon makes this action easy and addictive thanks to a patented “1-Click” buying technology it developed in the 1990s and licensed to Apple.

In addition, you probably gave Amazon and Apple your credit card information a while ago, which means you don’t have to fish it out of your wallet every time you try to buy something. In 2013, Google also launched its own version of 1-click via Google Wallet.

If you’re keeping track, that means that there are three ecosystems that enable spur-of-the-moment purchases on the web or mobile. Who’s missing from this lineup?

There are now 1 billion or so people on Facebook every day. Those people are liking things, posting status updates and looking at a lot of ads, but they’re not buying anything. That’s not for lack of trying.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.59.45 PM

Twitter too, has made overtures in the last year or so towards online commerce, but similarly, nothing has clicked yet.

Facebook’s F-Commerce Dreams

In 2009, 1-800 Flowers became the first retailer to sell on Facebook. The retail world took notice. Some predicted that “f-commerce” would become the next big thing and that Facebook would be a threat to Amazon and PayPal. Business consultant Booz & Co. predicted that by 2015, social selling would become a $30 billion business, with Facebook taking the bulk of the proceeds.

In 2011, Facebook made a bigger push, persuading Gap, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney and GameStop, among others, to open virtual storefronts. Those retailers wound up closing those stores down within a year. Why? As Forrester Research Analyst  Sucharita Mulpuru told BusinessWeek, “It was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

Twitter Tries E-Commerce

Twitter too has eyed e-commerce as a way to boost its bottom line. The company tested the waters in May 2014 with a feature that let consumers add items to their Amazon shopping carts via hashtags. It also ran a program with Starbucks that let friends tweet to send their friends a $5 gift card.

Getting Serious

This year, both Facebook and Twitter are getting more serious about their e-commerce efforts. Facebook has launched a buy button that runs on ads in the News Feed. Once again, Facebook is also launching dedicated shops where users can browse and eventually buy items.

What’s different this time? As Business Insider recently argued, the shift to mobile is giving Facebook a second chance. Since people spend most of their mobile time on apps and Facebook’s is the most dominant app, that gives retailers a forum for getting in front of mobile users.

Twitter, meanwhile, began testing a buy button in 2014. In August, the company expanded its buy button to some 100,000 merchants.

Buy Buttons Everywhere

Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only companies adding buy buttons. This year, Google added buy buttons to searches and to YouTube. Pinterest also added a buy button and Facebook unit Instagram began offering a “Shop Now” button this summer as well.

What’s going on? Like Facebook, they likely see the consumer shift to mobile as a new opportunity to lock in consumers to their respective ecosystems.

Will it work? Ask yourself this: If you saw something you liked on Facebook and hit the Buy button, would you take the additional step of adding your credit card information?

A recent study by PYMNTS cast some doubt on this happenstance. The survey asked some 2,000 shoppers who they trusted for desktop and mobile payments. Amazon came out way ahead, with 50% and 44%, respectively, saying they trust the retailer on desktop and mobile. Apple was next with 25% and 22%. Facebook garnered 5% on both platforms.

While one survey isn’t necessarily definitive, common sense dictates that Amazon will have an advantage over Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest when consumers consider reaching into their wallets, at least in 2015.

Just as consumers use brick-and-mortar stores for showrooming, they might still use Facebook this year to check out new products and then buy them via Amazon, especially if they signed up for Prime.

Some consumers today now consider Facebook as a place to socialize and Amazon as a place to buy. Like Apple, Google can use its platforms – Android, Google Play and YouTube – to convince consumers to give over their credit card info. Facebook and Twitter must solve for this in order to become a viable source of e-commerce for brands.

Meet the Author

Todd Wasserman
Todd Wasserman

Todd Wasserman was Mashable’s Business and Marketing Editor. Todd has been writing professionally for over 20 years. From 1999-2010, he covered the advertising and marketing industry for Brandweek, which promoted him to editor-in-chief in 2007. Prior to that, he wrote for the now-defunct Computer Retail Week and various daily newspapers including the Herald & News in Passaic, N.J., and the Register-Citizen in Torrington, Conn. Todd has freelanced for The New York Times, Business 2.0, The Hollywood Reporter and Inc, among other publications. He has also appeared on CNN, NPR, Fox Business and BBC America. In his down time, he enjoys playing racquetball and Scrabble, though not at the same time.

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