Recently BetaKit wrote an article about the shift from online storefronts to one-click social commerce, and Twitter commerce platform Chirpify was included as one of the companies leading the charge. Today Chirpify announced that it’s expanding its in-stream commerce platform from just Twitter to now include Instagram. The launch comes with the support of celebrities including Green Day, which will be using it to sell their latest album, and actress and singer Kat Graham, who will launch a social commerce campaign on both social networks.
“The whole idea for Chirpify started when I observed people listing items for sale on Etsy, or eBay, or Craigslist even, and they would immediately go to Twitter and tweet about their listing,” CEO and founder Chris Teso said in an interview. “And I said, well that’s just broadcast advertising on Twitter trying to lure someone away to a five-step checkout process to eventually transact. And I thought what if we could move all this to in-stream on Twitter and people could list on Twitter, and buy and pay.”
The company initially launched its platform in February 2012, and added $1.3 million in funding from investors including HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes in April. According to Teso sellers have seen upwards of four percent conversion rates, and in one case saw artist Amanda Palmer sell one t-shirt every second for four hours from a single Tweet.
Users will now be able to create a listing from Instagram posts by including the hashtag ‘#Instasale $Amount’ with a photo. This then adds it to their dashboard and allows users to update with details like quantity and shipping costs, and Chirpify will update the Instagram post with the additional information. Followers will then be able to comment with ‘buy’ or ‘donate’ and if they’re already a Chirpify member, it will send them a secure download or receipt, and if they’re a non-member it will prompt them to go through a one-time signup process where they connect their PayPal accounts and provide their shipping address. With Twitter, it’s also just a matter of replying with ‘buy’ or ‘donate’ for the transaction to take place.
Both individual sellers and merchants have access to a dashboard that lists purchasers so they can fulfill orders. “Both on Twitter and Instagram when you reply with the word ‘buy’ or comment with ‘buy,’ you have just purchased the item, there’s no other step, there’s no shopping cart, there’s no confirmation, we turn the comment into cash basically,” Teso said. That holds true for organizations looking to fundraise as well, where a reply or comment with the word ‘donate’ translates into a instant donation.
Chirpify charges a flat four percent fee per transaction for its basic package, and has a premium package which gives merchants access to more premium features like the ability to export data. Merchants can also offer promotions, coupons, and get access to support services for a variable monthly fee that changes based on sellers’ needs.
The term ‘social commerce’ has gotten a lot of traction lately, with companies increasingly looking to provide a more seamless buying experience that involves fewer steps between the time a potential customer discovers an item to when it’s shipped for delivery. Recently BetaKit covered the launch of TopFloor, which embeds buy buttons in YouTube videos, and can also be clicked in-stream in Twitter to take the customer to the checkout on TopFloor’s platform. Other players include Ribbon, formerly known as Kout, and Gumroad, which both let users sell anything by sharing a link. However, Chirpify is still one step less than other platforms since it doesn’t require clicking on a link to go to a checkout before purchasing (as long as someone is already signed up – if not, it’s a similar experience).
“You hear the words ‘social commerce’ all the time. We’re the only ones that are truly doing ‘social commerce’, I like to say everyone else is doing social advertising. Everyone else puts a link that just leads you to a traditional storefront, and that’s been happening ever since social media has been around. What we do is flip that, we actually do commerce inside the social network,” Teso added.
The company has several brands and artists on board to commercialize their Instagram followers, and will also be looking add major credit cards and banking institutions to its payment options roster. Teso’s Chirpify is part of a trend that will increasingly see a more frictionless online ecommerce experience, and with Instagram being owned by Facebook, it will be interesting to see if it will extend its instant-purchase features to Facebook comments.