Twitter Shifts Commerce Gears as It Tries to Solve Retail Riddle

Selling on social still challenges platforms

A BuzzFeed story late today said that "a number of members" have left Twitter's roughly 25-staffer commerce division as the company shifts talent away from the buy button, which it introduced for retailers 21 months ago. The folks that remain are evidently working on Dynamic Product Ads—which target visitors by the products they've looked at on retail sites—and customer-service features. 

"There's still an active 'Buy Now' card at Twitter, but no one's putting any work into it," a former staffer anonymously told BuzzFeed. "There's no new product development happening."

In an email to Adweek, a Twitter spokesperson suggested that any moves that have been made only represented a shift in strategy: 

"We made a change 3 months ago to INCREASE our investment in commerce by moving fully into Dynamic Product Ads after seeing the great early results (2x the CTR, 2x the conversion rates) we talked about in our Q1 earnings call. We have more product, engineering and business focus on commerce as a result of focusing on DPAs. The bottom line is DPAs work for advertisers and we will continue to invest in that product."

At the same time, a BuzzFeed source said, "People are not buying on social media right now. They are still buying, for the most part, on mobile web."

Indeed, retail has long been a tough issue for social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. 

BuzzFeed's article suggested Twitter was generally streamlining projects eight months after CEO Jack Dorsey reclaimed the company helm.

"There was more interest in having more focus in the core business, and buckling down there," another former Twitter staffer told the website.