Instagram is courting marketers by enhancing its platform for easier shopping experiences.
On Monday, the company announced two new features aimed at helping users quickly access and buy the products they see in Instagram posts.
Instagram is the best place to connect with your friends and interests all in one place – and shopping is an essential, growing part of the Instagram community. In fact, more than 90 million accounts now tap to reveal tags in shopping posts on Instagram every month.
The first feature, called “Shopping in Stories,” is available for marketers and business owners in 46 countries.
With Shopping Stickers, brands can choose to add one per story and customize the color to match their photo or video. A tap opens the product details page, and another sends them to the merchant’s site. Businesses will be able to see the number of taps on their Shopping sticker, and how many people tapped through to their website.
E-commerce platform and Instagram partner Shopify has already begun using the feature.
Since it went into test mode in June, one of the primary stakeholders in the new venture is Shopify (SHOP, -0.73%), an e-commerce platform and software provider for online retailers, point-of-sale systems, and social media brands. Selling via Instagram Stories will be made available to all of Shopify’s merchants, including the techie shoe brand Allbirds as well as Kylie Cosmetics, a beauty business valued at more than $900 million since launching just three years ago by one of Instagram’s most-followed users, Kylie Jenner.
… According to Shopify, approximately 80% of users on Instagram follow a business account, so expanding shopping beyond just Instagram posts to Stories exponentially increases the sales opportunity for online retailers—large and small.
The second feature is intended to make Instagram’s “Explore” tab shoppable.
Instagram wrote in its blog:
Topic channels, which launched in June, allow you to browse across your interests and go deeper on any area you like in Explore. Now, when you simply want to shop for fun, you’ll see a channel dedicated to Shopping posts from the brands you follow and brands you might like.
The features could keep Instagram’s growing user base on the app for longer during each session—which ultimately translates into additional revenue opportunities. It also is a departure from the app making money only through ads or sponsored posts.
The new features could soak up more user attention and lead them to see more ads. But perhaps more importantly, demonstrating that Instagram can boost retail business’ sales for free through Stories and Explore could whet their appetite to buy Instagram ads to amplify their reach and juice the conversion channel. With 25 million businesses on Instagram but only 2 million advertisers, the app has room to massively increase its revenue.
During Facebook’s last earnings call Sheryl Sandberg noted that Instagram has more than 25 million business profiles on its service, a number that’s likely to keep growing as the app leans further into shopping. The company may even be working on a standalone shopping app, according to a recent report from The Verge.
What is clear is that Instagram has emerged as a critical platform for many smaller and direct-to-consumer businesses, which depend on the photo sharing app to reach new customers.
Though other platforms, including Pinterest and Snapchat, have implemented shopping-friendly features, some say Instagram’s move could be even more successful.
“The whole phenomenon is very promising,” said Anindya Ghose, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business who teaches a course on e-commerce and social media. “A number of companies have tried it with mixed results. The potential is much higher than what we have seen so far.”
Pinterest has these types of shopping capabilities — called “buyable pins” that include products from major brands like Nordstrom and smaller businesses — on its platform for US users. Meanwhile, Snapchat (SNAP) partners with some brands and celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, to allow users to buy products via the app. For example, users could swipe up on a Kylie Jenner Story and purchase one of her company’s makeup products.
However, Instagram will have to win over marketers’ trust along with the allure of more potential revenue.
“The question will be how much power merchants will give Instagram after seeing what its parent Facebook did to news outlets that relied on it,” TechCrunch reported.
What do you think of the features, PR Daily readers?