Instagram Shopping: The New Era of E-commerce

Published October 24, 2019
Last Updated November 12, 2019
Michelle Cheung

It’s no secret that social media has radically transformed the way people discover new products. Thanks to the rise of influencers, more than 80% of consumers have discovered a product they were interested in social media. According to a recent study from Curalate, Instagram had the most substantial product discovery with 48%. It’s not surprising that the photo-sharing platform came out on top, when images and videos enable brands to communicate their message almost instantly to create impactful impressions.

With consumers spending more hours shopping online, it was only a matter of time before consumerism caught up on social media too. Instagram profiles in particular have practically become virtual shopfronts, with over 1 billion potential customers scrolling and subconsciously window shopping. Earlier this year, Instagram rolled out a native in-app checkout feature. Brands can now educate their followers about their featured products in addition to selling products directly on Instagram in only a few taps – without the user ever having to leave the app!

If you’re a brand with a physical product then Instagram Shopping is not a feature you’d want to miss out on! In this article, we’ll cover everything from the basics to the benefits.

So, what exactly is Instagram Shopping?

Instagram Shopping came to fruition in 2017, bringing an innovative shopping experience to 44 countries. Brands can tag products in their feed posts or add product stickers to their stories, transforming their profile into an immersive storefront.

The platform was already the perfect gateway for brands to introduce themselves and their products to new audiences, whilst deepening engagement with existing customers. Instagram Shopping now provides another avenue for brands to directly connect with their customers. From product inspiration to production information, brand followers can now shop for the products they love without the guesswork. Product tags make this all possible. 

When someone taps on a product tag, they’re taken to a product description page where they’ll see: 

  • an image(s) of the product featured in the post
  • short description of the product (if there is one)
  • the cost of the product
  • a hyperlink button that takes them directly to the website they can purchase from

Here is an example of what an Instagram shoppable posts looks like:

Tags are a simple, yet really effective way to increase site traffic and drive sales, whether it’s through Instagram posts or stories. Colourpop (shown in the picture above) for example, utilises this feature with every product launch they release.

What about checking out on Instagram?

In March 2019, Instagram announced ‘Checkout’ – a feature which enables users to purchase products with just a few taps. Once the user taps onto the product tag, they’ll be able to select the product colour and size before they continue to the payment. Only on the first time the user checks out will they need to enter their name, email, billing information and shipping address.

This is a much more streamlined approached, dramatically shortening the journey from product discovery to direct purchases. Checkout provides an endless shopping experience for consumers, quite literally allowing users to scroll and shop until they drop. 

However, there is one downside. Instagram Checkout is currently limited to the US with 23 selected top brands until they roll it out into more countries. Brands include well known names such as Dior, Colourpop, Adidas and more. Even though Checkout isn’t available in the UK yet, you shouldn’t ignore the feature. Over the next few months, the channel will be making the feature available to more brands. Instagram has also been making efforts to increase product discovery on the platform. So not only can people browse your featured products, they can discover your products in the Search & Explore tab.

Shop the Instagrammable life

The majority of e-commerce marketing focuses on the user intent, which is only great if the user already knows what they’re looking for. Social media isn’t about pushing products, it’s about inspiration. People look around for ideas, so if your brand fails to deliver inspiration, people can’t browse around for ideas to buy from you. This is where influencer marketing can deliver the maximum return on investment.

Instagram shopping tags aren’t limited to brands only! Instagram has granted access for selected influencers to add product tags to their posts as well. When the user clicks on the tags, the checkout process is exactly the same as purchasing from brand accounts. The only difference between the influencers’ and brand’s shopping post, is that users will find the influencer’s photos in the product’s featured photos. Consumers are much more likely to purchase a product when they can see similar people endorsing and recommending it. The entire influencer value proposition is based on promoting a glamorous lifestyle by wearing or using a product. They’re selling a lifestyle, not products.

Brands can also promote influencer posts to push their products on your feed or stories as ads, even if you don’t follow the brand or influencer. The ads are tailored to each users interest to reach the right people and blend effortlessly into their feeds. 

We’re excited to see how much more value Instagram shopping will unlock for retailers as Instagram grows further into e-commerce. It’s already been reported, Instagram is currently testing AR (augmented reality) functionality with selected advertisers. Users will be able to actively engage and “try on” products from their favourite brands to see how it looks on them. This is only the beginning of Instagram Shopping, the possibilities for tech savvy marketers are genuinely endless.

Are you using Instagram effectively to its full potential? As we mentioned in our IGTV post, there isn’t one tool or piece of content that fits all. You have to trial and work across all the various features until you find the one that works best for your brand.

Maybe we can help with our bespoke social media management or content marketing?

Get in touch by tweeting us, or contact us here.



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