Leveraging All Instagram Has to Offer Through Shopping
Instagram wants to be your go-to place for product discovery. And in that regard, it's doing a pretty great job. Posts from influencers and brands alike populate the app’s Discover section, making it easy for users to find new products that are likely to match their interests.
So beyond product discovery, what’s the next step? Shopping.
If you’re an avid Instagram user, chances are you’ve seen posts accompanied by a small shopping bag icon that when tapped, allows you to see exactly what products are being featured.
This Instagram offering has become especially common among direct-to-consumer brands, but nearly anyone that sells online can (and should) be taking advantage.
The core of this experience is taking a customer from product discovery to purchase in a seamless way. When a user stumbles across a product that they would like to purchase, they can make that decision right away if a product is tagged, rather than needing to navigate to a website and search.
So, if a customer is looking for new products, Instagram has a dedicated ‘Shop’ tab in the Discover section that will show only tagged products. Additionally, searches can be further refined within the tab to show only clothing, shoes, jewelry, housewares, etc.
@shop on Instagram
Instagram is committed to growing Shopping on the platform, and to helping up-and-coming brands grow in the process. One way this is happening is through the @shop handle, an Instagram account that has organically amassed 200k followers in the nine months since it launched.
The mere fact that Instagram is placing resources behind this account to promote Shopping on the platform shows that the company is invested in growing this channel which is welcome news to brands that may be skeptical of making their own investments in IG.
The final piece of the puzzle (for now!) is Instagram Checkout. Checkout debuted last year and is currently available with a selection of beta-testing brands, such as Nike, H&M and Kylie Cosmetics (here’s a full list).
Instagram Checkout takes the Instagram Shopping journey to the next level, eliminating the need for users to leave the app’s interface to make their purchase.
For added convenience, payment info is stored securely and most purchases qualify for purchase protection through Instagram.
The Brand Side
These Instagram offerings make it incredibly easy for consumers to discover a new product and complete their purchase within the same app, where they can then return with customer service questions or look for reviews and validation from relevant influencers.
On the back end, any retail/ecommerce brand should have a product catalog connected to its Facebook account, which should in turn, be linked to Instagram. With this catalog in place, any product featured on the Instagram business profile should be tagged, causing an Instagram Shopping icon to automatically show and allowing for increased discoverability in the Shop section of Discover.
As Instagram Checkout and the @shop account are not available to everyone, Shopping is really the only offering from this list that all brands can take advantage of right away and it should be their main point of focus.
That, however, is not to say @shop and Instagram Checkout should be ignored. @shop is run like a news outlet that curates and shares the trendiest products on the platform. As a result, the best short-term advice for gaining traction through @shop is to create trendy, highly engaging visual content. Even if this doesn’t land you in a featured spot on the @shop account, it could still land you a few new customers.
And when it comes to Instagram Checkout, stay tuned. The program continues to expand to more merchants, and while there may be a few logistical requirements that need to be addressed relating to fulfillment by brands, it will be exciting to jump on this opportunity as it becomes available, as it is sure to continue moving the needle for product discovery and purchases on Instagram.