The idea behind most of these initiatives is to take advantage of the fact that people are already spending a ton of time on these platforms and discovering products on them even if they did not log on with the intent to shop.
Buy buttons embedded in these platforms, the thinking goes, have the ability to turn those moments of discovery into purchase opportunities and could lead to more sales than if a person had to click to another site to make a purchase. This is especially true on mobile phones where some shopping sites are still not optimized well for small screens.
Big retailers and the social networks face big challenges integrating with each other one by one. Making sure a product being sold on Twitter is actually in stock, for example, is still a challenge for some merchants.
If social commerce takes off — and that's still a big if — Stripe could be poised to be one of the biggest beneficiaries. Up to now, Stripe has been best known as a software maker that helps apps and website owners accept all types of payment methods, from credit cards to China's Alipay to bitcoin.
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Its new pitch to companies on either side of the Buy button is that it can be the middleman that does the hard work to connect both parties — retailer with social network or content app — eliminating the need for each side to repeatedly build out these relationships on their own. The product will be free for retailers and merchants who process payments with Stripe; those who don't will have to pay to use it.
But at launch, Twitter is the only one of the big social networks on board and it's not clear which of the others, if any, will follow. Teaming up with multiple social platforms will be key for Stripe. The product cuts out a lot of the challenges for retailers that come with selling stuff on other company's platforms, but may only attract a lot of retailers if it allows them to sell across multiple. In other words, Stripe may have to get other big platforms like Pinterest or Facebook on board, too. After all, a retailer that wants to sell stuff on Twitter or Pinterest can choose to just work directly with one of those platforms rather than going through Stripe.