In November 2016, Instagram launched its shopping feature that has revolutionised people’s shopping experience. In a blog post Instagram explained the reason for bringing out the feature. According to Instagram, the social media platform offers its users a place to discover novel products. The Instagram shopping feature allows users to gather more information about the products they like on the post itself.
Initially rolled out to 20 US-based retail brands, including Kate Spade, Jack Threads and Warby Parker, Instagram shopping makes it easier for users to know more about the products. A tap-to-view icon is present in the bottom-left of the photo using the feature. “When tapped, tags appear on various products in the post, showcasing up to five products and their prices. When 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, when the user taps the “Shop Now” link from the details view, you will be taken directly to that product on the brand’s website. This makes it easier and faster for your followers to buy the product. Having all this information at their disposal with the ease of knowing more about the product within the Instagram’s app itself, makes Instagram shopping a viable feature. This will be very useful for followers who will no longer have to switch from an app to a browser and back to the app again.
The video demo that Instagram uploaded shows that users would be able to scroll between the tagged products by swiping left and right.
According to Instagram, when someone taps a tag on your post, they will see:
An image of the product from your post
A description of the production
The cost of the product
A link that takes them directly to your website, where they can purchase the product
You can not promote shopping posts at the moment. Instagram shopping feature is only available in organic posts as of now. The ability to tag posts provides eligible businesses with the opportunity to showcase their products. As of now Instagram provides you the ability to tag up to 5 products in a photo. This number goes up to 20 in a carousel like post. You can also tag products in both new and existing posts. However, tagging on boomerangs, videos, and animated GIFs is not supported at the moment.
The Instagram shopping feature was tested at Shopify throughout 2017 and was then opened to all Shopify users. The integration of Shopify with Instagram simplified the process for businesses as it provided them the platform to present their products. Shopify has previously said that Instagram is a significant driver of traffic towards their site. Therefore, the ability to convert the traffic into sales on Instagram itself instead of switching from app to browser could result in an increase of sales.
Why Businesses Use Instagram
Instagram is one of the best platforms present for discovery on mobile. It has more than 800 million active users and thus provides the opportunity to thousands of businesses, small and large, to connect with potential customers.
Each brand brings out its own personality in its Instagram profile.
“Instagram is where we portray the interesting life of the kate spade new york girl through relatable social moments which highlight the products that are characters in her story. This post features our favourite new bag and elements from our new personalisation programme that, together, make the bag uniquely hers. With this seamless shopping experience launching on Instagram, the possibilities for selling our products are endless.”
Mary Beech, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Kate Spade & Company
Businesses across US are excited about the Instagram shopping feature.
“Instagram and Warby Parker share a similar appreciation for beautiful design and seamless experiences. But at the moment, there isn’t a simple and clean way for us to share details about the products featured in our posts. Customers often have to ask us about them, which creates a bulky experience on both sides. We love how seamlessly integrated and consumer-centric this new experience is.”
Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Warby Paker
Businesses feel that this new feature will offer their users a more coherent experience.
“Our community uses Instagram as an aspirational discovery platform, and they’re looking to us for inspiration. This test is going to change the scope of what we, as retailers, are capable of offering on mobile. Instead of having to transition over to the JackThreads app, our customers will be able to shop seamlessly from their social media feeds, allowing us to reach guys where they’re already hunting for new items.”
Ryan McIntyre, CMO JackThreads
What You Need to Use the Instagram Shopping Feature
According to Instagram, you need to have the following before getting the go-ahead to use the Instagram shopping feature to sell your products. You must have
A Facebook Page dedicated to your products.
A business profile on Instagram
An updated Instagram app
A IP address in the United States of America (you must use the Instagram app from this address)
Affiliation to an Online Store sales channel like Shopify
The Need for Instagram Shopping Feature
Instagram shopping feature gives you the freedom to make your caption about the posts itself. Earlier, when you did not have this feature, you and other people with small businesses who sell products out of their website or Shopify, would have to resort to using their captions for a Call-To-Action. You would tell your followers to check out the product details on a link that you put on your bio. This link would have to change for each individual post with a different product. Though this was a good hack for the time, but the go-around did not always lead to conversion or people actually visiting the link. The additional task would often prove to be cumbersome. Now with the instagram shopping feature, you can choose not to talk about the products in the caption. This gives you room more room for being creative with your captions.
How to Increase Sales with Instagram Shopping
This new feature gives businesses a unique opportunity to showcase their products in a way like never before. This is especially relevant for small businesses and people who sell products on their own website or sites like etsy or Shopify. Therefore, if you have a small business or a start-up, you must use the Instagram shopping feature to your advantage. Here are a few ways how you can do it:
On any social media platform, producing quality content is extremely important. This helps in not only increasing visibility, but also engagement with followers. Any Instagram post that has the eye and the confidence of the followers becomes successful when its more likes and regrams. However, this success is not tangible until it is converted to actual sales. Shopping on Instagram has been made easy with the new feature.
As you know, Instagram is all about beautiful images. Even before Instagram came out with its Shopping feature, people were drawn to attractive images. People enjoyed the visual treat and it gave businesses like yourself more followers. That is still (rather, especially) valid now that people decide whether on not they want to buy your product on the app itself. Therefore, it is vital that you keep posting well-produced content that draws the attention of your followers and helps you convert those likes, comments and regrams into sales.
Using Hashtags is one of the best ways to ensure your content being discovered. Now that Instagram has launched Hashtags as a feature, you should incorporate it in your marketing strategy. To know more about Instagram’s hashtag feature, check out our blog. Merely producing quality content is not enough; you must make sure that it is reaching potential customers of your brand. You should include at least one hashtag with each post as this increases engagement and the chances of being discovered.
Follow other businesses (with a large following) related to your product and see which hashtags they use. You do not have to exactly copy what they do, but take inspiration from them. You could also follow hashtags related to your brand and see how people across the globe are using it. If you see a novel way of using them, you should try it in your future posts.
Location stickers are available to use on Instagram for its Stories feature. You should use them as they will help you come up in searches, making it easier for potential followers to find you. Stories can now be spiced up with location specific stickers that are designed to signify the essence of your particular city.
A novel and innovative post, may help you be chosen as Instagram’s larger story for that location. This is a compilation of stories that are tagged with the same location sticker. Being a part of Instagram’s story will increase your chances of being discovered, potentially increasing your popularity and engagement.
Seamless Instagram Shopping Experience
Instagram Shopping used to require a user to leave the app to either find out more about the product or complete the purchase. Jumping from one interface to another is not only confusing but can also get annoying. People want their shopping experience to be smooth, simple and seamless. When a user has a smooth experience, they are more likely to make the purchase. When you provide the user with all the information at one point, they can take informed decisions.
People like talking about the things the like on social media. It is an extension of their social group. However, social media is a different landscape, where things talked about do not remain contained in a box. Here anything said can reach any part of the world which gives you an opportunity to use this to expand your niche of followers.
People gain confidence in a brand or a product when they see other people using it. Therefore, a critical part of marketing is to let regular people be the spokesperson or brand ambassador of your business. When you see a follower using your brand, regram their post and add description to your product that they have used. The social proof by the public gives your products a seal of authenticity. This, in turn will drive more sales. You can see here how well Happily Unmarried uses this strategy for the marketing of their products.
Give your followers a little inside into the workings of your brand. This is an excellent marketing strategy. When you provide them with a behind-the-scenes scoop, your engagement with your followers increases. This a more personalised way of engaging with your followers and gives your brand a human face. Instagram Story is a creative outlet where you can show how your products are made or who makes them.
Future of Instagram Shopping
In a blogpost, Instagram said, “As we roll out further, we’ll explore product recommendations, ways products are showcased to shoppers, global expansion and the ability to save content so Instagrammers can take an action later. We want to understand how to deliver the most seamless shopping experience for consumers and businesses on Instagram, and ultimately mobile.” “Instagram won’t take a cut of purchases, and instead plans to monetize the product by later allowing brands to pay to show their shoppable photos to people who don’t follow them”, says Instagram’s VP of monetisation, James Quarles.
The Instagram shopping feature is a very attractive proposition for businesses. It increases your ROI and draws more traffic back to your shopping channel. It also provides you with more options to engage your followers. You could run contests about the product you choose to display and give away freebees just to get the ball rolling. Your followers along with the loyal fans of your brand will certainly enjoy the chance to engage with you.
As of now you do not have the technology to separate the traffic on your shopping channel garnered because of Instagram shopping from the organic traffic. However, businesses who got the feature approved on for their brand have said they have noted an increase in traffic on their channel.
At the moment the feature is not available on videos, but it is a possibility and Instagram could soon launch it.
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