Indosat today launched its #twitbuy program in partnership with Twitter to allow the network’s subscribers to purchase mobile packages through Twitter. While it’s not exactly the built in e-commerce mechanism that Twitter rolled out in 2014, it’s a method that Twitter and Indosat are using to increase Twitter participation among consumers.
Essentially #twitbuy a direct alternative to purchasing mobile subscription packages through SMS or USSD short codes as the mechanism is identical. The difference being that this is done through Twitter and that Indosat subscribers must follow the company’s @indosatmania account and follow the instructions given in the direct message received. The system takes advantage of the fact that Twitter’s direct messaging system has been opened to everyone without having to follow each other.
Once an Indosat customer’s phone number is registered for the service, they can send the hashtag #menu through DM to @indosatmania and receive a list of package options that they can buy. Keep in mind that because there are no bank accounts or cards connected to Twitter, customers must have enough phone credits to be able to complete a purchase.
The entire process is more practical than having to register for an Indosat Instant account, although in all fairness, the Instant mobile app that’s available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Symbian, offers more details and information for customers about their accounts and subscriptions.
This partnership is really about Twitter showing its versatility as a platform which can replace the resilient SMS-based system not just for communications but also various mobile services as required by brands.
This ability certainly adds convenience to those already on Twitter and may increase time spent on the app, but it may do little else as it’s not a strong enough feature as a drawcard for people to join the service. If Twitter can expand on this as a “rudimentary” alternative to its Buy button, which requires a credit card, it could be a powerful e-commerce enabler as the majority of Indonesian consumers do not own a credit card but they are eager to purchase items online.
In its announcement, Indosat claims that it is the first telecommunications company in Asia Pacific to launch this sort of service. Director Business Development Twitter Asia Pacific, Arvinder Gujral, said, “Twitter is an integral part of the Indonesian society right now and #twitbuy is an innovation that will make the lives of our users easier and more comfortable, while enjoying the services from Indosat”.