NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Twitter ( TWTR) , which has become a place to catch up on breaking news and a destination to find restaurant reviews in real-time, is now looking to become a global, virtual shopping mall between the retailer and the consumer.
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Earlier this month, Twitter took the wraps off its "buy now" button, with 25 commerce-oriented early adopters, such as Burberry and Home Depot ( HD) , signing on. The consumer clicks on a "buy now" icon in tweets, pulling up a landing page where he can type in shipping and payment information to make a transaction.
But the buy now button is only the first step in Twitter's emerging mission to connect merchandise sellers with huge ad budgets to buyers. In an interview with TheStreet, Twitter's director of retail, J.J. Hirschle, a former Google (GOOG) executive that oversaw sales and partnership efforts for Google's retail clients, gave a glimpse into the company's commerce initiatives. Hirschle also foreshadowed what the future of commerce may look like in a universe of wearable devices and touch-screen smart TVs.Must Read: Chipotle's CEO Monty Moran Unwraps the Restaurant's Success Story
Brian Sozzi: How are Twitter's retail partners seeking to tap into the power of the buy now button on Twitter?
Hirschle: I think the most exciting thing about buy now is this notion that retailers could start connecting with consumers in this kind of serendipitous moment, or impulse moment. Imagine the day when a retailer would be able to connect with a consumer in multiple moments. One moment might be that consumer watching an NFL game and tweeting about the game. A vendor could then tweet a buy now button with the jersey of the team that they are watching. It's this notion of connecting in a highly relevant moment for the consumer and removing friction from the buying process.
Sozzi: Retailers arguably still have not tapped into the full potential of Twitter. For example, where are the unique video and Vine releases for new products? What is the roadblock here?
Hirschle: With any product it's fair to say there are going to be challenges around integration and adoption. I spent nine years at Google, and I look at how long it took for some of those retail clients to understand the product. It's just a learning curve more than anything else.
If you look at Vine, there have been some examples, such as Lowe's (LOW) which had tips (watch Vine here), using Vine as a platform to share tips around specific common do-it-yourself type home-improvement projects. Target (TGT) (watch Vine here) and Victoria's Secret have been on it, and using it. The other thing to keep in mind is that Vine is 18 months old; for its life cycle we have seen decent adoption. But it's a powerful tool for retailers to tell vignette stories inside of their store.
We separate Vine from video, and have a separate native video player, which is a new play for us as well. Nike (NKE) had a ton of success during World Cup leveraging their brand strategy via our native video player. In retail, video tends to lead to higher conversion rates overall. My sense is that Vine and video are going to be much bigger focus areas for our partners moving forward.
So for many of our clients, both in retail and outside of retail, there is a long history of highly produced content, and we have to get them comfortable with the fact that users are OK with content that might not be as highly produced because it has a more authentic feel to it. That's a leap of faith for some folks. It's getting them comfortable with a production value that is different than in the past.
Sozzi: Many retailers continue to not approach investing in social media teams in the same manner they would a new store or other infrastructure investments. Are you seeing that?
Hirschle: When you say social media teams that could mean so many different areas of a retailer from customer service to communications to marketing. I think what you are seeing is particularly reflective of retailers just starting to staff their customer service element around social in a much more meaningful way.
It's critically important to think how you are leveraging insights from a data standpoint in store not only to influence marketing and customer service, but how could that potentially be a signal to use to inform pricing decisions or inventory decisions or help them rethink store layouts. There is an abundant amount of data that lives in the platform that simply, I think retailers haven't started to apply in all of the relevant areas.