The Rise of Twit-Commerce

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Your next pair of shoes or favorite album may be just a tweet away.

While the tweet-to-pay business model isn't entirely new — it's been around for a few years — the concept received a shot in the arm earlier this year when credit card giant American Express announced a new Twitter e-commerce program for cardholders.

"We loved that they did it," said Chris Teso, founder and chief executive of Chirpify — which launched in 2012 and allows consumers to purchase certain brands via Twitter using PayPal or their credit card. "It's a big player. It validates what we're doing and raises awareness."

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Teso and others see social media as the logical next step for e-commerce — allowing users to complete transactions by simply sending out a tweet, typically with a command like "buy" and the payee's handle name.

"This is a frictionless transaction that just needs a simple tweet," said Brad Lindenberg, co-founder of Australia-based BuyReply. "Obviously we see a lot of potential in it."

BuyReply allows users to tweet — or text — products seen in ads on television and in magazines along with that company's handle in order to make direct purchases. Lindenberg said the service also allows retweets of purchases — in essence allowing the purchasing of a product to go viral.

While similar, Teso said he sees his company as more of a "seamless" transaction agent, where Twitter users can buy products as they tweet with friends. Users also can use Chirpify on Facebook and Instagram.

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As with buying on websites a decade ago, both companies said they understand such a process will bring security concerns, and stress transactions are completely secure — as users' credit card and address information are kept with the company, not with social media networks.