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Shop in 140 characters: Twitter tests ability to buy products in tweets

Twitter dives into social-media fueled shopping with a "Buy" button that lets consumers purchase goods without leaving its site.

Twitter's initial group of merchants includes brands like Burberry and music artists like Demi Lovato and Pharrell. Twitter

Twitter's giving new meaning to impulse buy.

The social network known for relaying information quickly is testing a way for mobile shoppers to purchase items directly from tweets. A small percentage of US users will see a "Buy" button within tweets, Twitter announced Monday.

"This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun," Twitter said in a blog post. The service, available for Twitter's iOS and Android app, will eventually expand to more users.

It's a potential revenue stream for a company that's still figuring out how to make money off its users. Currently, Twitter's main business is advertising. Adding an e-commerce component also gives Twitter the ability to store users' credit card information for repeat purchases. Reports of this service have circulated the rumor mill for several months.

To power the service, Twitter partnered with e-commerce sites Fancy, Gumroad, and Musictoday, as well as payment service Stripe. It's not clear how Twitter is splitting the profits with its partners. The companies cover a wide range of products and services -- Fancy uses social media to sell physical products, Gumroad is a platform for digital products and Musictoday was a pioneer in pre-sale concert tickets.

After hitting "Buy," a user will see the product's details and a prompt for shipping and payment information. Once that's complete and submitted, Twitter will hand the order over to the merchant. The company said the information is encrypted -- merchants won't see the actual credit card information without permission -- and stored after the first purchase, but users can also remove the information from their accounts.

Twitter is coupling the button with special offers and exclusive merchandise from merchants, which includes brands and music artists like Burberry, Home Depot, Demi Lovato, and Pharrell, as well as nonprofits like GLAAD and DonorsChoose. The company said it's adding more merchants in "the coming months."

Twitter isn't the first social media to try out shopping within its channels. Facebook started testing in July, and third party companies have been experimenting with selling things through social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for years. Even e-commerce giant Amazon has entered the social media shopping game. It launched its own campaign in May, allowing consumers to tweet hashtags that add items to their Amazon carts.