Twitter is dipping into brick-and-mortar retail with a new Twitter Offers program which allows businesses to create discount “coupons” that users can claim from an advertiser’s tweet. The system works in a way similar to Living Social, except the purchase is at the retail store directly using a credit or debit account synched with the user’s Twitter account.
This is the first time Twitter has entered the physical retail system with a directly-measurable way of interacting with consumers. Retailers can gain a lot of information about their shoppers, including access to them via Twitter, and better ways of marketing directly with results that can be easily seen and quantified.
The rollout started today and is expected to see its first big test this weekend during Black Friday shopping. Twitter plans to expand the program to other jurisdictions globally, including with alternative payment links for areas where credit and debit are uncommon.
This is sort of a next-generation of the old hashtag-based system used earlier this year. The company’s acquisition of CardSpring allows them to bypass the hashtag tracking and use direct consumer card tracking instead. Any Twitter user who links a payment card to their service, be it a VISA, AmEx, Mastercard, or whatever, that link can be used on subsequent offers without re-entering the information. The system links the discount automatically using the card information.
Twitter Offers works by allowing merchants to offer discounts to buyers who meet certain conditions (say minimum purchase amounts or specific product buys). Customers who want to claim the discount can use the special link in the offer to accept it. If they pay with whatever credit or debit card is linked to their Twitter, the discount is automatically applied at the register.
The deals can be based on single stores, whole chains, geographic locations, and more.