SAN FRANCISCO — After months of hints about its e-commerce ambitions, Twitter said Monday it would begin publicly testing a "buy" button that can be embedded in posts to allow users to buy a product with a couple of clicks.
The feature, initially aimed at selling limited-edition or time-sensitive items such as T-shirts and event tickets, could eventually create a revenue stream for the social network, which currently relies on advertising for virtually all of its income.
The test comes as competition in the world of mobile e-commerce intensifies. Apple is expected to unveil a phone-based payment system on Tuesday as part of its latest update to the iPhone. And Facebook, Twitter's biggest rival, began testing a "buy" button on its service in July.
Unlike Twitter's e-commerce efforts with companies such as Amazon and American Express, this one will not require buyers to send a public message with a special hashtag to buy the product being offered. Instead, they will click on a "buy" button inside the Twitter message. The service will prompt them to enter their credit card and shipping information or, if they are already on file, ask them to click again to confirm the purchase.
Nathan Hubbard, the former chief executive of Ticketmaster who joined Twitter to lead its commerce efforts, said the test would initially be limited to a small number of Twitter users and would include items for sale from 19 entities, including musicians, nonprofits, and retailers.