Prepare to see a lot more "Buy" buttons in your Twitter stream.
The payments startup Stripe is working with Twitter and other tech companies to make it easier for merchants to sell products directly through those companies' mobile apps, Stripe announced on Monday. The project, which is known as Relay and which launches today, is intended to give merchants an easy way to reach young people on the apps they already use. In the case of Twitter, tweets from participating brands now contain a "Buy" button; clicking on it pulls up a pop-up screen in which users make product selections and order straight from the app. Shoppers give Twitter their credit card information once and the app stores it for all future Relay payments.
Executives at Stripe, which works behind the scenes to power payments on popular apps like Lyft and Instacart, believe the Relay project will help streamline the "obstacle course" that is the mobile buying experience, CEO Patrick Collison told reporters at an event in San Francisco on Monday.
For Twitter, which is facing skepticism from Wall Street over disappointing financial numbers and a prolonged search for a new CEO, the Relay partnership represents another attempt to become more central in people's lives. While Twitter has already been testing a "Buy" button, Relay is intended to open the door to any merchant that wants to reach customers through the social network.
"The time is now for us to put these tools in the hands of merchants and watch how they build on the platform," Nathan Hubbard, Twitter's head of commerce, said at the Monday event.
Along with Twitter, Stripe is working with the shopping apps ShopStyle and Spring. That means merchants will be able to set up retailing channels through those apps as well.
One merchant using the Relay system through Twitter is Warby Parker, the purveyor of trendy eyeglasses. Starting today, people will be able to select a color and size of certain (nonprescription) sunglasses styles without leaving the Twitter app; the company may soon expand its offerings via the "Buy" button. "It's important for us, as an overarching strategy, to be where our customers are — whether that's in shopping neighborhoods like [San Francisco's] Hayes Valley or in social applications they use today," Chris Maliwat, head of product management at Warby Parker, told BuzzFeed News.
While it remains to be seen whether the effort will catch on in a big way, Collison said Relay has an "air of inevitability to it."
He walked the audience through the often cumbersome process of buying things on the mobile web — setting up an account, entering shipping information, typing in a credit card number, etc.
"Needless to say," he said, "not a whole lot of people are doing this today."