Amazon.com Inc. now lets customers shop through Twitter.

The new service relies on hashtags, which are words or phrases preceded by the # sign to make them easily searchable over Twitter's microblogging service. Amazon.com shoppers who have enabled the feature from their Amazon.com accounts can add items to a shopping cart by replying with the #AmazonCart hashtag when they see a tweet links to an Amazon.com product page.

The service does not let shoppers complete a purchase on Twitter. The user must visit Amazon.com's website or mobile app to select a payment method, shipping address and other details.

Amazon.com has introduced several new payments initiatives in recent years. Its virtual currency, Amazon Coins, can be used on its tablets and the new Fire TV media streaming device. A service called Login and Pay with Amazon, launched in October, streamlines the process of making purchases on other e-commerce sites using payment details stored with Amazon.com.

Many other companies have experimented with using hashtags to initiate purchases or person-to-person payments. Amex has a program allows cardholders to get discounts on particular items by posting to Twitter with hashtags such as #AmexConcertTickets, Chirpify and Dwolla have systems that allow consumers to send P2P payments, and companies like PikaPay and Tippercoin enable Bitcoin transfers over Twitter.

Twitter-based payment and shopping systems are increasingly common, but there have been a few failures. Twitter has also suspended some payment services over concerns that they were violating its rules over how to distinguish advertisements from other tweets.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry