Instagram is teaming up with brands including Adidas, Anastasia Beverly Hills, ColourPop, Huda Beauty, KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics, Nike and Ouai Hair to trial in-app shopping on the Instagram app.
Over the next few weeks, US users of the social media site will be able to buy and manage orders from within Instagram feeds, rather than – as at present – by viewing them through Instagram stories then linking to the brand’s own site to purchase and manage orders.
Now, as part of the beta-trial when a user taps on a “View the Product” button, they will see a “Checkout on Instagram” option rather than being taken to an e-commerce site. Once a person enters all of their information within Instagram – which are then saved for future purchases – they can buy directly and manage their orders in the app.
The brands taking part are all ones with huge Instagram followings. Huda Beauty has some 34 million followers, Kylie Cosmetics has just under 20 million followers and Nike has over 85 million followers. Businesses were selected based on their adoption and performance of shopping on Instagram, according to Paige Cohen, a spokesperson for Instagram. Additionally, Instagram tried to choose brands that reflected a wide variety of products and price points.
Cohen also intimates that the platform will charge a “small fee” to businesses selling through the platform, which will fund programs and products that make checkout possible. That includes credit card processing costs and other transaction-related expenses, she said, but declined to provide further specifics.
Instagram is rapidly growing in popularity with social media users and adding in-app shopping builds both on this and on-going work by the site to become a shopping portal.
A study by Streetbees into global social media platform usage and preferences finds that 89% of 18-25s in the UK say they use Instagram – slightly more than the 87% who say they use Facebook. In addition, almost half (49%) of the 18-25s surveyed said Instagram was their favourite social media platform, against only 18% who said Facebook.
Meanwhile, a second global study– The 2019 Influencer Marketing Global Survey – compiled by Rakuten Marketing reveals that YouTube’s monopoly on the ‘influencer’ is over. Instagram is named the platform most commonly used to view influencer content (65%), beating the video streaming platform by 3%.
“With Google launching Shopping Actions last year, it’s no surprise that Facebook is testing a marketplace of its own on Instagram," comments Marcel Hollerbach, CMO at Productsup. "And with 72% of consumers saying they have made fashion, beauty or style-related purchases after seeing something on the platform, this is a brilliant move for removing purchase friction and allowing consumers to quickly move from browsing to buying all within the app. This is especially important for direct-to-consumer brands who don’t have the resources to build their own e-commerce site, allowing them to instead engage and convert their target consumers where they go for product inspiration."
And there is a growing hunger for social commerce. "The rapid advancements we are witnessing in social commerce demonstrates the increasing consumer appetite for convenience and a seamless customer journey," says Lizzie Willett, BJSS Senior Retail Consultant. "Retailers have been toying for social commerce for a while now, but this move to Instagram as a direct commerce channel highlights a real shift for retailers. Not only is this an exciting step forward in the mobile shopping experience, but also one that demonstrates the blurring lines between social media and retail."
Willett continues: "The move towards Instagram as a direct commerce channel enables retailers to capitalise on ‘in-the-moment’ impulse purchases. However, the limitation here is where consumers want to buy multiple items from the same retailer. This itself is an interesting dilemma for retailers to consider – embracing this new way of shopping is pivotal for future success and relevancy, however as more consumers utilise Instagram as a direct commerce platform, we expect that retailers will be faced with smaller orders and less cross-shopping."
Should the US trial be a success – which we anticipate it will be – it’s only a matter of time until this hits the UK, she says. "The bigger question for retailers to get to grips with is the extent to which Instagram could replace their own platforms, and therefore, the role that their existing channels play in the customer journey," adds Willett. "Understanding this, alongside careful consideration of digital marketing and customer engagement strategies, will be key for retailers’ future success."
With this in mind, many UK brands have already been using Instagram to drive online sales, with M&S has been conducting a trial of selling on Instagram and found it so successful that it planning now to roll it out as a sales channel later this year.
“With the rise of brands that have used social media promotion almost exclusively to gain traction, Instagram’s new checkout ability and the use of the platform as an online marketplace has been a long time coming," comments marketing specialist, Steve Gershik, CMO, inRiver. "Eventually – and probably sooner than marketers are ready for – we will have the ability to take this to the next level through adaptive merchandising, which will allow brands to visually show, through ads, how their products will fit into a particular consumer’s lifestyle. With the rise of artificial intelligence, the technology will soon exist for a smartphone to track its user’s eye movements, dwell time and pupil dilation – all things that indicate interest. This science will allow marketers to deliver the right information at the right time, therefore solidifying marketing platforms like Instagram as one stop shops for product information.”