Checkout Instagram Now Open: Instagram’s Shopping Service Launches

Posted on 22/03/2018 · Posted in Blog, Social Media Bytes

Instagram has launched a new feature which promises to change the way that brands and consumers use the popular social media app entirely. New to the UK this week after success in the US last year, Instagram’s new shopping service will enable consumers to shop for products within posts on the app. So far, businesses trialling the feature include Marks and Spencer, Heidi Klein and Mahabis.

Primarily used for advertising, Instagram is a fantastic way to build and maintain a brand’s online presence whilst engaging with new and existing audiences. However, this new feature will enable brands to send customers to their webstores directly by simply tagging posts in a mechanism similar to tagging products from your shop in Facebook posts. This will be a great asset for brands who wish to push sales through social media, as according to Sprout Social, 80% of users now follow a business on Instagram.

So, how does it work?

Brands will be able to tag up to five products per image, detailing product information including pricing and sizes. After posting nine times, the option to ‘Shop’ will be available on the account; this will allow customers to scroll through items for sale across the feed. This feature aims to allow users to purchase items through Instagram without having to leave the app themselves.

Importantly at this stage, the service only applies to organic content and does not work on sponsored posts, appearing to be another step in Instagram’s quest to create a distinction between paid-for and organic content following backlash from advertising authorities and demonstrating increased focus on organic content creation.

In an article written in City AM, Helen Cahill states that “currently, brands use Instagram as a way to advertise products and connect with their customers. Celebrities also promote products using the platform. However, Instagram’s new shopping capability will allow firms to monetise the platform more directly”. This again, highlights the important role Instagram currently and will continue to play in the future of brand promotions, allowing smaller brands struggling to generate website traffic to use the platform as their primary method of garnering sales.

Overall, the new feature will enable brands, regardless of size, to convert likes into sales. And in an age where social media has become the main source of consumption for online content, the service will fully utilise Instagram’s ability to generate sales and conversions. At this stage, Instagram does not plan to charge businesses for this service which is a positive aspect for all businesses planning to utilise the new feature. However, in the wake of consumer and governmental backlash on Facebook’s use of customer data, it will be interesting to hear how the information gathered on user’s spending habits through this tool will be used.