As the second largest social networking platform, Instagram has become a powerful source of mobile discovery and a point of connection between users and brands across the world. “With 80% of people following a business account and a global community of over 600M,” it has long represented an opportunity for consumer brands to not only reach a highly engaged audience but also influence them in their buying decisions. Even though 60% of users discover new products through the platform until just recently, there was no direct link between the point of discovery to the purchase of a product. The buyer’s journey was complicated, with too many steps between that finding to the actual acquisition, which, in turn, hindered the majority of conversions.  

The What

Aiming to facilitate the experience, Instagram rolled out a new shopping feature in November that expands purchasing capability within the app and transforms the buyer’s journey. The feature taps into the discovery mindset, the point when consumers are still browsing for products and looking for inspiration, and then takes it one step further to allow them to continue on their path to purchase without friction. Instagram initially tested the new tool on 20 US retail brands, including Kate Spade and Native Union. Results were extremely encouraging: Native Union saw an increase in traffic of 2662%, while Instagram itself experienced a 100% growth in revenue. Now, retailers within apparel, jewelry, and beauty industries can use the feature to connect with customers in a much more immersive way. On March 20, the experience was made available to other eight countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.  

The How

With Instagram Shopping, businesses can create and tag posts with products directly from their mobile devices. Users, in turn, can tap on a post with a product that catches their eye to learn more about it, explore similar products and directly click on “Shop Now” to be redirected to the brand’s website and buy on the spot. Instagram has announced that soon enough, businesses will also be able to track their results and derive insights around metrics like how many people tapped to learn more about the product. On a blog post, Instagram added: “For businesses, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post. And for shoppers, shopping posts’ tags get rid of the guesswork and allow for easy access to tagged products’ information.”  

The Why

For users, Instagram Shopping has made it simpler to explore, find, evaluate, and buy products that are relevant to them, creating an experience that is “less transactional and more actionable.” In fact, by making discovery easier, the feature also encourages consumers to engage with brands at various touch points throughout the buying cycle, improving the experience as a whole. And, as they turn to social to research products and find inspiration, businesses have a new opportunity to increase conversion rates and drive more sales.

For brands, the feature is incredibly valuable because it shortens the path-to-purchase and helps turn product discovery into real revenue. It also elevates the importance of content creation, as businesses can now explore different ways to generate engagement through product posts. By becoming more discoverable, brands can more easily build valuable relationships with customers and grow their fan base of loyal and recurring followers. At the same time, Instagram Shopping makes it easier for businesses to understand the success of their social efforts since it allows them to track the rate of conversions that are actually coming from product posts. Before Instagram Shopping, measuring results was much harder. Finally, it’s worth noting that with a carousel of product options to browse and a “shop now” button that immediately redirects the user to checkout, Instagram’s new feature encourages impulse buying. After all, we are more likely to buy out of impulse after browsing products on IG, and this new feature gives direct access to exactly that. As the Instagram Shopping experience evolves, social commerce enters a new, and perhaps more exciting, phase. More than offering new capabilities to drive conversions and revenue, the feature opens doors to a new type of marketplace where brands and customers directly influence each other. At its best, IG Shopping will be a tool for inspiration as well as for building a more valuable business-to-consumer relationship.
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