Instagram debuts in-app shopping feature

25/03/2019

Instagram has launched an in-app checkout feature for a limited number of brands, making it possible for users to purchase products without leaving the app.

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“Checkout on Instagram” expands on previous shopping features on the service, which ultimately pushed buyers to a brand’s web page to complete transactions.

Previously, users were then required to enter payment and shipping details, and often sign up for new user accounts, prompting many to bail on the transaction before completing it.

Under the new scheme, the Facebook-owned app lets users tap on an item they want to buy, select further details such as size and colour, and then head to a payment screen where they can pay with the credit card and shipping information they have stored on Instagram.

At launch, the new feature will be used by brands including Nike, Uniqlo, Kylie Cosmetics and H&M, but is limited to US customers.

Instagram has not revealed how much its cut of the purchase is, and the company did not reply to a request for comment.

The company said it will be making the feature available to more brands over the coming months.

Instagram reports the number of users that tap on product tags in the app every month has grown from 90 million last September to 130 million now.

Instagram’s shift to e-commerce suggests a new source of revenue for the company and a new way to encourage users to enter their payment information, paving the way for Facebook to launch other paid-for services.

The shopping and checkout features are not available in adverts and can only be used for posts on the newsfeed and on Instagram Stories, where they will disappear after 24 hours.
Earlier this month, Instagram confirmed it was testing branded content ads, making it possible for advertisers to turn posts created by influencers into ads.

'Removes a number of pain points'

Daniel Dixon, head of social at ecommerce agency Visualsoft, commented: “In a world where the consumer expects a more seamless shopping experience than ever before, shopping directly via social media is the natural next step. Social media has long been viewed as an invaluable brand awareness and engagement tool, but conversion has always been an issue – how do you successfully turn those “likes” into measurable sales?

“Instagram’s shoppable posts are providing the answer to this and have already been adopted by almost half of ecommerce businesses due to their sales-boosting abilities. The platform’s latest update is therefore set to build on this success by enabling shoppers to make a purchase without even leaving the app – maximising ease of purchase.

“Shopping via social media removes a number of pain-points on the customer buying journey, and could virtually eradicate shopping cart abandonment; an issue which affects almost three quarters (74%) of online retail sales. Considering that UK retailers enjoy an average social media reach of over 1 million, the growth opportunities are tremendous for businesses who can take advantage of this new trend. However, if this is to be successful on a wide scale, retailers need to keep followers engaged on an ongoing basis. This can be achieved through creative Instagram stories and social posts."

'Hyper-personalisation'

Anshuman Singh, Associate Vice President and head of digital at Mindtree, said of the news: “The news of Instagram’s addition of a checkout feature to its mobile apps is a fantastic new channel for retailers to take advantage of and, should be a part of their broader Omni-Channel strategies to carry out purchase cycles across multiple channels.

“This kind of tool presents the perfect opportunity to leverage social media to harness user information and provide hyper-personalisation to consumers.

“Today’s consumer experience involves a variety of touchpoints and the retailers need to take advantage of tools like this to provide a unified and fluid retail experience for consumers.”

Read the full announcement from Instagram here


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