What is Instagram’s New Shopping Feature?
Instagram is testing a new shopping feature to give consumers more product information on posts, the feature will also allow a link where users can purchase the product for themselves. The feature is a step towards improving the selling experience for brands, making it easier to promote products and gain traffic to their site.
How will it work?
Each post will have a tap to view icon at the bottom left of a photo. When tapped, a tag will appear on various products in the post—showcasing up to five products and their prices. Once a tag is selected a new detailed view of the product will open. This functionality will bring important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey, all without having to leave the Instagram app to search. Then, if the consumer taps the Shop Now link from the product details view, they’ll go directly to that product on the business’ website, making it easier for them to buy the product they want.
Instagram is well aware of the massive mobile potential of shopping online, as Instagram highlighted ‘84% of smartphone users in the US browse, research or compare products via a web browser or mobile app’ – this move is clearly a way to capitalise on that.
Instagram is also keen to include their e-commerce potential right into the app, allowing users to browse without leaving the platform.
According to an internal survey by Instagram, only 21% of purchases are completed within the first day. Knowing there are a lot of stages in the buying process, with information such as product descriptions and prices needed along the way, Instagram are hoping this new feature will help along that path.
How can I start using Instagram shopping?
Currently Instagram has limited the feature to a number of test accounts, who will be sharing these new feature posts in the coming weeks (See examples).
This initial phase will be limited to a group of people, who use iOS devices and are within the US.
The next phase will look at expanding the feature, adding product recommendations, changing how products are ‘showcased to shoppers’ and expanding to other countries other than the US. The ability for users to save posts so they can come back later to check product information or make a purchase is also a potential change.
What this means for brands?
Instagram has always positioned themselves as the place to discover trends and new products, now it’s trying to make it easier to follow that path to purchase.
This is already a path many users have made, the behaviour is already there. The only difference, brands would previously have to refer to their bio link, elaborately use hashtags or use a convoluted third party tool. This makes that path easier by including an easy to click link which can only help drive purchases.
This also a big step in the impulse purchase market, shortening the time between initial interest to checkout.
Another question that needs asking is, what does this mean for influencer marketing? There has a monumental shift towards influencer marketing recently – with 81% of marketers having used it previously. With more and more brands seeing the potential of influencers with huge, loyal followings promoting their products.
The main worry in the influencer space is tracking, how do you know the impact of what is essentially mass word-of-mouth. With the introduction of product information and links, traffic can be tracked and an influencers value seen clearly.
Obviously, it’s up to influencers whether this will be something they adopt. With the fine line between genuine promotion and advertising being a constant worry, the introduction of overt production information and links could put some people off.
It’s also yet to be seen if users will start shopping in-between their social media fix. While it makes it easier for people to buy brands’ products, we don’t know how much benefit brands and retailers will actually see.
The potential for other services?
What does this mean for subscription services, non-profits, etc.? Currently there isn’t any word on the boundaries the product must be within, as well as whether this will be moderated or how brands will apply the feature.
For non-profits that use campaigning and donations, it’s still to be seen whether they will be able to use this feature. A heavy focus is on product, the price, the information, etc. Donations and campaigning is obviously a little different, but we do see the potential in this new tagging feature for non-profits. Instagram wouldn’t want to alienate the massive non-profit sector of their member-base.
We don’t see much potential for subscription based services; principally because the pricing structure is a lot more complex. Instagram would likely want to distance itself from the complicated side of subscription services, making it as easy and straight-forward as possible for the users.
Instagram Shopping Examples
The new Instagram shopping tagging feature will be trialled by a small selection of accounts, with posts over the next few weeks.