Instagram has launched the next stage of its on-platform ecommerce experience with a new 'Shop' section in the Explore tab, showcasing a range of personalised items within a single buyable feed.
The new Shop listings will highlight personalised product recommendations for each user, based on the accounts they follow and the businesses that are using Instagram's product listings.
Parent company Facebook announced Instagram's coming Shop options back in May, which will eventually see a significant increase in buyable product listings in the app. This new Explore section is another element in that gradual evolution.
While there was already a way to shop within Instagram before today and even check out from select accounts without leaving the app, the new Instagram Shop has been designed to encourage even more browsing and discovery of brands, creators and products.
The shopping feature coincides with the launch of of Facebook Pay for purchases and donations in the US. Both initiatives were announced previously, this year and in 2019, but had not yet rolled out.
What’s the user experience?
Instagram Shop is described as a place to browse products from favorite brands and creators, as well as curated collections published by the Instagram-run @shop account. In the Shop tab, you’re able to filter by categories like beauty and home, for example, and then check out directly in the app.
Users in the US will be able to buy some products – those with special “checkout” arrows – directly on Instagram without leaving the app.
All purchases made with checkout will be powered by Facebook Pay, which will roll out within the next few weeks in the US. The feature, announced last year, “will provide a seamless, secure way to shop and make donations to causes.” Instagram explains it’s safe, offering an extra layer of security allowing users to add a unique PIN or their device biometrics, i.e Touch, or Face ID to secure it.
How does it work for brands?
For brands looking to get their products featured within this new listing, approved businesses can tag products in their Instagram posts, which will then help them reach interested users via Instagram's recommendations algorithm
In order to qualify for the Commerce Manager tool, businesses need to provide Facebook with delivery and financial details, along with shipping options and a customer service email. A set-up process then lets you upload your inventory list.
See an example of the Commerce Manager tool below:
Facebook Pay was introduced last year as a way to transact securely across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
In Instagram, it will allow US users to make purchases as they shop, as well as donations to the businesses they’re supporting because of the coronavirus outbreak and related shutdowns.
If the business is using Instagram’s own Checkout feature a selling fee is involved. At scale, this could produce a new stream of revenue for the company, particularly now as consumers are shopping more online amid the pandemic.
The new features are live now in the US, with plans to take it global in the coming weeks.
Later this year, Instagram is also adding a new Shop tab in the navigation bar, allowing access in just one tap, rather than via the Explore tab.
With more users looking to shop online amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, the arrival of these new options could spark a significant re-think in approach for Instagram marketers.
Instagram could become an the online shopping destination to rival Amazon. The platform already has the audience, and the aspirational user base, people already come to Instagram to stay connected with the latest trends.