American Express is jumping into social selling, and CIOs need to pay attention. Hint: #CIO #AMEX #frictionlessretail #tweetforstuf #personallyIhatehashtags
Seriously, American Express is letting you buy stuff just by Tweeting with the right hashtag. You sync your card with them, and whenever you use certain tags, they process the purchase and send you the goods with no extra muss or bother.
Right now, you can buy American Express gift cards (at a discount) for products from Amazon, Sony, and for the Xbox360. There’s even Donna Karan jewelry. All sent with free two-day shipping.
There are some serious implications to this.
Amex gets serious about social selling
The first thing to consider is whether this is what social selling needed to kick it into high gear. Sure, Pinterest has been very interesting to retailers because people could pin stuff they wanted or liked and it made for a quick way for influencers to promote products. The thing about Pinterest is that it could be a passive process. If you pinned your new favorite car, there wasn’t necessarily a call to action associated with it.
On the other hand, imagine a public tweet that reads: "Just bought Donna Karen’s new diamond bracelet. #braceletx #Amex #spoiledwife #youknowyouwantit"
That might be just enough to get the juices flowing for others to buy the same or similar products. We all know that wanting and buying something aren’t the same thing. The fact that an influencer bought the product, and you saw it in real-time, may be powerful for retailers.
Of course, there are some downsides. Security is obvious. Twitter accounts aren’t known for being the safest of places to sync your American Express card. Let’s say for argument's sake that the security issues are resolved: Do you really want your Twitter account to be as secure as your financial accounts? Are average Twitter users going to want to take the care they should?
Just as important is the issue of cataloguing. With a limited supply of products, the hashtags available won’t be that hard to sort through. But as the products on offer continue to grow, so will the need for unique hashtags. Once you need to go looking for the hashtag to buy the thing you already know you want, it's not a big leap to wonder whether going to Amazon or Sony directly isn’t faster, particularly since Amazon already offers one-click purchasing synced to credit cards.
Still, American Express is making a notable leap, and CIOs need to watch this carefully. If social selling takes another step forward, CIOs (along with CMO partners) need to be ready to respond. Other financial services companies will surely be compelled to follow suit. Retailers will need to find a way to make the purchase a social event.
Can a Tweet about one person buying something inspire another person to also buy it? We don’t know yet. If it can, you'd better be ready to make sure your customers are Tweeting about their purchases.