In 2018, Instagram launched their shopping experience in the US, allowing business accounts to tag products in their organic posts, and soon rolled out in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Instagram shop is now a reality.
According to the elves at Instagram, 130 million people tap on posts to see the shopping tags and where products are from – and in order to make this seamless, users will see a “checkout on Instagram” button appear when tapping on those tags.
Throughout 2019, the aim with Instagram shops was to bring payments in house, so you can either save payment information on the app, entering it during checkout or paying with PayPal. An Instagram spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch, “We will introduce a selling fee to help fund programs and products that help make checkout possible, as well as offset transaction-related expenses.”
Well, the day has come. In the past few months, the company has tested new e-commerce features to support companies looking to bring their business online during COVID-19. One of the biggest announcements was Instagram Shop, which will provide a new, more streamlined way for users to discover shoppable products on the platform.
Instagram Shop is piggy-backing off the new Facebook shops and will be slow to roll out, but Facebook has promised a new button on the app’s main navigation bar later this year, just like explore. This means Instagram will curate a shopping catalogue straight from the main app – even if it’s unclear how the algorithm will showcase the best products for you.
You’ll be able to browse selections from your favourite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place. Up until now, brands have been only receiving contact information and shipping addresses, as the platform has been working with partners like Shopify and BigCommerce to simplify its setup process.
Going forward, users will store their payment information to easily and efficiently make purchases in the app, while brands and businesses can sell their products directly to their target audience.
Smart business move, you say? I can only agree. It’s all about meeting the consumers where they are: “We started using product tags to make shopping more convenient for our customers,” agreed Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal. “Checkout takes this experience one step further, making it even more intuitive and seamless for people who have discovered products they want to purchase instantaneously.”
With more than 200 million accounts visiting one or more business profiles daily shopping was just the next natural step for Instagram: “a multitude of brands have been using the shopping on Instagram feature to connect with customers in a fresh, immersive way – making shopping less transactional and more actionable.”
- Credits: Instagram
Shopping goes live
Facebook also plans to launch a new Live Shopping feature across Facebook and Instagram, which will allow you to shop on Live in real-time.
Facebook has reported a 70% increase in Live views from February to March as creators and brands found new ways to embrace the platform during social distancing. As more than 800 million people engage in live video daily across Facebook and Instagram, there is a lot of scope for promoting product tutorials and launches, which proves e-commerce and live videos go hand in hand.
With Facebook’s upcoming Live Shopping feature, businesses will be able to “tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.”
- Credits: Instagram
Can you set up an Instagram shop?
Instagram has strict requirements when it comes to getting set up with their shopping features, so we thought we’d share a few of the key ones (you can find more details on them here):
- Your business must be located in one of Instagram’s 46 approved countries for Instagram Shopping (UK and US are some of them).
- Your Instagram account must be for a business that primarily sells physical goods. Non-physical good are something Instagram is currently looking into, yet not fully supporting.
- You must also have a business profile on Instagram and comply with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policy.
- Your Facebook Business Page connected to your Instagram account cannot have country or age restrictions.
- Your Instagram business profile must be associated with a Facebook catalogue for your products.
How to set up a product catalogue
The process to set up your own Instagram shop can be a laborious one, but it would definitely be worth the effort for bigger accounts with a variety of products.
You can go to the Business Manager account that owns the Facebook Page linked to your Instagram business profile. From your Business Manager account, head to ‘Catalogue Manager’ to create a new catalogue or identify an existing catalogue you’d like to use with shopping on Instagram. If the catalogue you’d like to use is in another Business Manager account, make sure the two accounts are partnered.
If you’re using Shopify or BigCommerce to manage your product catalogue, you can choose to set up a shop on Facebook directly through those platforms – happy days!
Setting up individual products is also pretty easy, as what you truly need is a picture of the product, the name of it and description, plus the best link to purchase. Now it’s time to wait…once you’ve set up your Facebook shop or connected a product catalogue on your Business Manager account, Instagram will review your account before granting access to the shopping features. You can simply request a review from your business account.
Unfortunately, we are still not eligible due to the nature of our products, but I am hoping that will change soon.
After you set yourself up, tagging and sharing are pretty straight forward – business accounts can tag a product in a post as well as activate the “Shop” tab on profile, whilst potential customers can easily access all the product information via the Instagram post directly.
- Credits: Instagram
Going forward, shop features will also open for creatives looking to promote affiliate products. The main point is, the creative will need to set up the products on Facebook, which may end up being more work than anything.
Other third-party platforms for creatives to look into, if keen on using Instagram for products and affiliate products, would be Shop This Feed or Snapppt (both mentioned multiple times by different sources, but we did not have the chance to test them ourselves).
According to a recent press release, this drastic shift to e-commerce is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the struggles it has caused for many businesses:
“Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.”
As selling goes social, it’s going to be fascinating to see how Instagram evolves to support new forms of monetisation in the future.
Are you looking to give your profile a refresh? Check out our step by step guide to running an Instagram audit
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My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.