Turning Twitter in to a shop front – Square Market
It’s unsurprising that a company with one of the founders of Twitter sitting as CEO would eventually come to incorporate the social media giant as a sales platform.
Square, best known for it’s iOS add-on and app that turns the Apple device in to a veritable cash register (or point of sale to give it its proper name) announced yesterday that it was moving to help remove the bridge between offline and online commerce even further. Square Market will soon allow shop owners to move their inventory from the app to a web based market place at the slide of a finger (it being integrated with an iOS device and all). Where this becomes interesting is the incorporation of Twitters relatively new product cards.
When each item is added out into the ether for sale a Tweet is sent to that stores following on Twitter. The Tweet then takes the form of a product card (similar to media cards – think playable YouTube and Vine videos in your Tweet stream). Here, the user can see an image of the product, a short description and even a “buy” call to action which takes the user straight to the user online store. This, in effect turns Twitter into a store front. Combined with promoted tweets and the other array of Twitter promotional options, this becomes a rather attractive lead generation platform.
The minimalist design style with content at the centre, a style prevalent across Twitter (and Vine to that mater) has also been adopted by Square. The hope is that Square are able to reverse the common trend of throwing huge amounts of information and background noise at the consumer. It replaces the importance of the shop frontage with the importance of the product itself. The branding across the whole site delves well beyond the minimal, a tiny Square logo representing the only branding on the page.
This, in conjunction with Twitters lead generation cards represents a new focus for Twitter (admittedly Square not being a direct subsidiary) on the monetisation of the platform. It also, in my humble opinion represents a much cleaner offering than that presented by Facebook – a service I feel is starting to alienate users post IPO.
The introduction of an online store does however put Square in direct competition of the likes of Etsy, eBay and Amazon. Each offering the ability for small sellers to move away from the high street and in to the www. It’s integration of POS to store front helps bridge that gap in seconds. It does come at a cost. Where the other three charge fixed rates all ranging below the $1USD per item (give or take), Square charges 2.7% of the oveall sale price. A huge leap in cost putting it i league with the likes of Paypal (which it is also now in competition with through another service it is offering).
In start up terms, Square is now maturing as a brand an as a tech offering. Starbucks across the US use Square to handle all of their POS transactions. A good grounding and case study to prove expandability and robustness of the network.
In terms of social commerce, I think Square’s new market place and the integration with Twitter (though unsurprising) is a great step forward. It allows physical retailers to digitise themselves in the blink of the eye and nationalise their markets. No small feet in the current climate.