Square’s New Web Marketplace Highlights Twitter Commerce Possibilities

Published on June 26, 2013
by Mike Isaac

squaremarketCommerce and payments startup Square on Wednesday morning unveiled Square Market, a Web-based portal for small businesses to sell their wares online.

It’s a push into the Web-based retail purchasing world, an area typically dominated by e-commerce giants eBay and Amazon, whose portals to e-shopping have reinvented how consumers shop in today’s online and offline worlds.

The service isn’t drastically different from an eBay or an Amazon in terms of listing your items. Throw ’em up on the Square-hosted site and you’re up and running with a homemade storefront. Handily, it’s integrated with Square’s Register product, so Square sellers will have a complete inventory of their products and sales for their records in a nice and tidy back-end setup. And in an interview with Wired, Square CEO Jack Dorsey played up the fact that users can share items for sale on Market to social networks like Facebook, Pinterest and especially Twitter.

Twitter is the key here. Twitter’s Cards technology lets third-party developers make tweets much prettier, inserting things like photos or video inside the tweets themselves. Using Twitter’s Product card, a Square merchant could tweet out a link to one of their items in the Square Market, and that tweet will look much fancier in the Product template. Basically, a user can click through the tweet back to the merchant’s marketplace on Square’s website.

TwitterMobileDeveloperEventThat’s not new — Etsy, eBay and other online retailers are doing the same thing. But this utilization of the Product Card is the likely jumping-off point for the direction Twitter’s commerce efforts are headed.

Imagine a point in the future where, instead of being linked out to a retailer website to pay for an item, you could complete your transaction from within the tweet itself.

It’s something that Twitter’s global revenue chief Adam Bain has hinted at for quite some time, and an idea that Dorsey, in particular, has been playing around with at both Twitter and Square.

According to people familiar with Dorsey’s thinking, his vision for Square’s Card Case product (which eventually became Square Wallet) was that every business didn’t have to build out their own app, or futz with tons of new infrastructure, to make e-commerce work for them. That’s still true — the Wallet app lets you walk into a Square business and pay without ever having to pull out a credit card.

Dorsey’s thinking there also translates over to what Twitter Cards could become — a way for small businesses to publicize and potentially sell items without worrying about building a separate e-commerce app or back end to sell them from.

“The point is to highlight what’s being sold,” Dorsey told Wired, “not to emphasize that it’s Square doing the selling.”

Right now, mind you, you can’t buy within a tweet. You’re still linked out to apps or sites through the product card.

But I know that Twitter has a team working on its commerce initiatives, and they’ve been busy over the last year. No ETA on when we could potentially purchase something from within a tweet, but I’d imagine it’s not terribly far off.

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