Find out how Instagram Shopping could revolutionise your ecommerce

November 18, 2016
Reading time7 minutes
Clayton Quist
Clayton Quist
Customer Service Genie

Instragram has been one of the most useful social networks for ecommerce, mainly in the sale of physical products. In the United States, the Instagram’s vice-president of monetization, James Quarles, revealed in an interview with TechCrunch that 60% of users find out about products and services through the application. Three quarters of this 60% have said that they take some kind of action, like visiting sites, searching on Google or telling a friend about a post they saw on the social media site. With their eyes fixed on this potential, Instagram announced Shopping, a way of buying within the app itself. To begin with, only a few well-known brands in the USA will be trying out this feature. Check out our complete guide below to start getting ready for the new release, planned to be rolled out worldwide.

Have a look at: 25 free templates for your sales website

What is Instagram Shopping?

At the beginning of November, Instagram announced its new ecommerce tool, known as Instagram Shopping. The new introduction marks a busy year for the social network, which also launched Instagram Stories to complete with Snapchat. The main aim of the new feature is to cut down the amount time a user takes to buy a product they’ve seen on Instagram. Currently, brands can only create posts with images of their products. As you can’t add links to post, companies can proceed in one of two ways. The first is putting their web address in the post so that the visitor can copy and paste it into their browser. The second is putting the link in their bio, the only place where you can do so.

With Instagram Shopping, the social media is aiming to have the whole process, from the discovery to the sale, happen within the app itself, by adding product links.

Another Instagram survey, which was revealed in the Instagram Shopping announcement, revealed that 84% of smartphone and tablet users in the United States use web browser or apps to search for and buy products. The launching of this tool helps to remove one of the biggest problems with Instagram, and the studies suggest that the new feature is likely to be very successful.

Instagram Shopping

How does Instagram Shopping work?

To start with, the experience of scrolling through the social network’s feed won’t change. However, every time photos that contain products are posted, like clothes, drinks, or electronics, amongst others, there will be a small banner saying ‘Click to see products’ in the bottom left corner of the image. Clicking on this, the user will be able to see up to five tagged products per photo, as if they were people or places, but with the price included. To not clutter the photo and possibly ruin the user experience, the price is not shown immediately.

When a follower clicks on the product tag, the name and price of that specific item will be showed. Clicking again, the follower is taken to a page with a complete description of the selected item. It’s thought that sliding the screen left or right will show other products that are on sale in the same photo. If you’d like to buy, you only have to click ‘Shop Now’ and you’ll be taken to the shop’s site to complete the purchase. However, you don’t actually leave the Instagram app and, if you decide not to buy, you can return to your feed by clicking the ‘Back’ button on your smartphone.


Instagram believes that its new feature will speed up the buying process without pressuring potential clients. Another internal survey publicised through the announcement revealed that only 21% of people make a purchase on the same day they find a product that interests them. This is because they’re avoiding impulse buying, wanting to find out more about the specific product before finalising the sale. The aim here is to make the sale easier, immediately providing the necessary information.

Have a look at: 19 steps to setting up your online shop

The million-dollar question: how much will I have to invest to use Instagram Shopping?

According to the team behind the social network, nothing. Instagram doesn’t intend to charge commission to the ecommerce business that adopt Instagram Shopping. To start with, the monetization strategy will be concentrated on similar charges to the current advertisement system. To be more precise, Instagram intends to let ecommerce businesses pay for their photos that include products to be shown to users who don’t follow them, as well as their followers.

Close to 20 American brands are testing Instagram Shopping at the moment. Three of them are Kate Spade NY, JackThreads and Warby Parker. However, most usesr still can’t see Instagram Shopping in action. For now, this feature is only available to a few users with iPhones or iPads in the USA.


What’s in store for Instagram Shopping?

According to the announcement mentioned above, Instagram Shopping will have another feature: reviews. As already happens with sites like eBay and Amazon, this will let users add a note to a product and share their opinion of it. We believe that, to begin with, this will only be possible via comments on the post. Instragram intends to change the way that products are displayed to buyers, but it didn’t give any details about how it would do so.

One of the most promising future features is ‘saving’. Clicking on an icon, the Instagram user can mark the post as a product of interest and save it for later. Obviously, the intention of the social netowkr is to extend this ecommerce platform to the whole world. Curiously, nothing has been mentioned about the Android version of the app, but we assume that Instagram Shopping will also be compatible with Google’s system.

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How can Instagram Shopping help my ecommerce?

The main advantage of Instagram Shopping is also the most obvious one: an increase in sales. The tool removes a few steps in the purchasing process and avoids users having to leave the app to search for a product. It’s worth noting that, with the platform, it will be easier to trace your search results on the social media platform.


The second biggest advantage is that you can tag photos of your products that have been sent in by followers, not just those posted by your profile. You can tag your product in a photo shared by the user, increasing the chances of sales for your ecommerce even further, as content generated by the user is more authentic than publications created by the companies themselves. The third advantage is having more space for creative content. As the tag already takes the user to a page where they will find a description, there’s no need to write it in the caption as you currently have to, letting you use this space for more attractive and creative calls to actions.

Have a look at 28 ways of increasing visitor numbers and conversions on your online shop

What can you expect from Instagram Shopping?

We believe it’s very likely that the platform will be very successful and use of it will become the norm for ecommerce businesses on Instagram. That’s why you should start looking into the possibilities now, and stay abreast of news related to Instagram Shopping. In this way, you can get a head start, getting ready for the future so that you’re a pioneer in your area. Even though the whole sales process will be done through the app, it’s still vital for you to have your own site. If you don’t have one yet, have a look at our post on 20 websites to start your ecommerce. In this way, you won’t be subject to Instagram’s rules and, amongst other things, you’ll be able to provide online customer service through a platform like Jivochat. Check out its features and pricing (/pricing/)!

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