Brands are increasingly turning to Facebook both as a place to advertise and as a complementary platform by which to build their online presence — and begin conducting social commerce. There are a number of solutions, for example, that allow big and small operations alike to operate retail storefronts on Facebook, sell their wares, and, to a degree, manage their transactions.
But how can one capitalize on other popular social network, Twitter. The “micro-blogging” platform has certainly become a vehicle for celebrities and brands looking to hawk their products, stir up brand awareness, and interact with their customers, so the question becomes: Why can’t Twitter, too, offer some of the same eCommerce functionality as Facebook? Twitter has been largely focused on doing one thing well above all others: Building the best realtime communication platform the Internets has to offer. There’s also the fact that Twitter has privileged a “consistent user experience” and hasn’t always had the best relationship with third-party developers.
Thus, brands have typically used Twitter as a somewhat indirect broadcast platform, listing items for sale, but only doing so in a way that is intended to lure customers away from Twitter to their own eCommerce platforms. Chris Teso saw this as an opportunity for direct eCommerce on Twitter, which is why, in July, he launched Sell Simply — a simple way to enable consumers and brands to buy, sell, and transact on Twitter. Essentially, Sell Simply turns Twitter into a eMarketplace, allowing users to buy and sell anything over Twitter by replying “buy” to any listing Tweet.
Users can list an item for sale on Sell Simply, or import their items from other commerce platforms, like Etsy, Ebay, Craigslist, ArtFire, or Bonanza, and automatically tweet those items out for sale. All users have to do is connect their Sell Simply accounts with Twitter and PayPal, so when someone responds to that tweet with “buy”, Sell Simply facilitates the transaction through PayPal, enabling users to buy and sell an item with one tweet. (Re-tweets, too, are transactionable.)
Beyond allowing consumers and brands to sell directly to their customers on Twitter, the startup also offers its users the opportunity to create their own storefront. Through Sell Simply’s “Simple Shop”, users can aggregate all the listings for items being sold on Twitter so that users can find them all in one place. They can also add descriptions, tags, photos, and edit a number of other fields for each listing. What’s more, the platform has a fully automated shipping calculator, which allows sellers, for example, to set their own shipping options in prices so that shopping costs can be included in the listing price, or can be set for “local pickup only”, etc.
Sell Simply has a Chrome extension to make it easy for those already selling items on Etsy, Ebay and more to import their listings.
To make the process of buying and selling direct on Twitter device agnostic, Sell Simply has launched Chirp, which now allows users to pay anywhere with any device. To make a Chirp payment, all users have to do is send a tweet that says something like “@SellSimply #pay @ThePayee $200 for [said item]“. Users can make payments that are as little as $1 or as high as $2,000. (And this is how Sell Simply makes money: The startup charges a 2 percent transaction fee on every one of those purchases.)
This allows brands and sellers to collect money in under 1 minute, direct to their PayPal accounts. Detailed PayPal receipts are then automatically sent to the buyer via direct message so that they have an extra way of making sure that the transaction has been completed. And, in terms of security, since all transactions take place through PayPal, customers have no liability for unauthorized purchases when they meet PayPal’s requirements, and, in turn, can take advantage of refunds for incorrect orders or items that never arrive.