GUEST COMMENT Insta for inspiration, Santa for delivery this Christmas?

Shopping from photos is on the rise amongst Millennials. A PwC report revealed that 25% of Millennials, who would do all of their Christmas shopping online, said they prefer shoppable photos. They want to browse, buy and probably share in between, but the process must be easy.

Mobile shopping at Christmas has been coming up on the rails for some years now. It’s likely to overtake PCs as the device to shop from this year. In 2017 49.7% of all online retail spending in the UK happened on a mobile device. In Germany, it topped 50%, according to The Centre for Retail Research.

We’re also seeing changes to the online buying journey; it’s now multi-stage. Consumers search for inspiration on their phones during downtimes like commuting or watching the TV. They bookmark and share, then come back later to design or review and buy. At Spreadshirt, we used to see the final buying stage happen on a PC, but increasingly it’s all taking place on mobile. This doesn’t seem to be cannibalisation from the PC market as shoppers change their habits; it looks like new growth. Visits to our site from mobiles now exceed visits from PCs; up 40%. Mobile sales are just behind PC sales, but catching up fast; global orders from mobile were up 41% between 2016 and 2017.

Browsing Instagram is the beginning of the shopping journey, but it now looks like they’re incorporating more of the shopping journey within their ecosystem. It’s already a site which manages to bring together businesses and consumers in a way that Twitter and Facebook don’t. More than 25 million businesses already have accounts, and four in five Instagram users now follow at least one company. Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook) claims that two-thirds of visits to Instagram business profiles are from people who don’t yet follow them.

But isn’t it mostly space where consumers go looking for inspiration? Shoppers can feel more connected to a business on Insta because areas like Shopping in Stories seem more genuine. Other social media might be about sharing thoughts, opinion and links, but Instagram is about self-expression and connection. We see lots of messages on t-shirts on Insta as people express their opinions and likes.

So Insta’s an inspiring Christmas shopping destination, but, to be a less stressful experience than visiting the High Street, it has to be simple and easy to use too. What does Instagram have to do to make this its best Christmas? Simplify the biggest headaches of internet retailing; delivery, returns and payments.

Delivery

As Santa and his elves well know; Christmas is all about delivery. Santa gets around the world in a night, something that most ecommerce companies would LOVE to be able to do. An inspiring present is worthless if it’s not under the tree by 24th December. Insta will need to deliver.

Product

Instagrammers must know the Wyatt Earp belief that ‘fast is fine, but accuracy is everything’. The best are authentic, and this has to their products and designs. If the item that turns up in the post isn’t exactly right, it can seriously impact the brand image. Instagram sellers need to make sure their cool image looks the same in real life.

Payments

Taking payments can be a headache. It should be quick and straight-forward to avoid carts being abandoned at the last stage. And of course, shoppers want to know their payment is secure. Businesses selling via Insta will need to provide the simplicity and security of the High Street shop or traditional ecommerce site.

This is crucial at Christmas because consumers are under pressure to buy, but also, as we know, retailers need to have a successful golden quarter. We find that consumers are more likely to spend time on the site browsing and designing, and then convert. Rates are up 70% between the first three quarters and the last.

For Insta to have its best Christmas, it will need its ‘grammers to be connected to a reliable platform where the buying process is simple. Instagram is the enticing shop window, but platforms like Spreadshirt also offer the essential till, bag, returns desk and accounts department to complete the inspired purchase. Instagram is where people go to be inspired and find a unique treasure to share and buy, but it will still need somewhere to make the transaction, fulfil the sale and deliver the exciting package!

The online consumer journey is now a multi-stage process; browse, design, share, review, buy. Browsing Instagram is the beginning, delivery before Christmas; the end.

For 2018 to be an Insta-Xmas, its users will have to get more than their content right. They’ll need a platform that can process the order and deliver on time. That said, we are still expecting mobile shopping and Insta-commerce to go up this Christmas. #spreadmystyle

Author: Philip Rooke, chief executive officer of Spreadshirt

Image credit: Fotolia

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