November 25, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Instagram has been changing, and it’s now reflected in the layout. At the bottom of each user’s screen, a shopping bag icon is wedged between “Reels” and one’s personal profile, reflecting the platform’s newfound emphasis on ecommerce. The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, has noted on the company’s blog that “with the Shop Tab, we’re making it easy to get inspired by creators you love, shop on Instagram and support small business.”
Users are more inspired and tuned in to their favorite influencers, creators and celebrities than ever, thanks to the growing number of hours spent on social media. Per Instagram stats, 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram for product discovery, and 87% of people say that influencers have inspired them to make a purchase. This is the mark of true influence.
To learn more, I spoke with Elizabeth Prairie, the owner of Social Static, who has been closely monitoring the Shop feature’s move to front-and-center for months. “Instagram’s Shop feature will revolutionize the way we shop and choose which products we want to buy,” she notes. “That’s why it’s so vital that brands jump on the bandwagon quickly to take full advantage.”
How to Implement the Shop Feature
“First things first: check out the shop feature as it stands now,” Prairie advises. “The algorithm has noted your behaviors on the app, and immediately populates the Shop feed with products you may like depending on this data.”
Once your own shop is set up, this is one of the central areas where customers will see and explore your shoppable products. “This feed is set up to both help you discover new products and to keep track of the products from the brands you currently follow and love,” Prairie adds.
To get started, simply build out your shop and create your items. “The most notable trait about the ‘Shop’ feature, which will really set it apart, is how it permits tagging in photos,” explains Prairie. “So, if you’re a clothing brand and you post a picture of someone wearing your shoes, hat and T-shirt, you can tag each of these items in the actual photo, and it will show up as a shoppable tag. The idea is that someone could think, ‘I really like that hat!’ then be able to click on it, see the hat’s price, and purchase it without ever leaving the Instagram app.”
It goes beyond static posts, though. The Shop feature permits tags in Instagram stories, too, adding an interactive element.
Shopping from Creators
This goes beyond brand photos, and can also work for influencer campaigns or if someone posts a picture with your product in it. “This will also be a notable benefit for creators and influencers on the app, who can use this as a bargaining chip in sponsorship deals and sell their own products more easily,” says Prairie. “For example, maybe a creator just recently launched their own stationary line. Without needing to build out a separate brand page or wait until a separate brand page attracts the same following that they have on their personal page, they can tag the stationary as a shoppable product on their own page.”
Prairie has noticed this removes the need for questions about the products from followers. “In my own experience, and with the other creators I know and work with, they love how easy it is to bypass questions like, ‘Where did you get your necklace?’” she says.
With the ability to shop via these mini tags, it’s easier for shoppers to get answers faster. A Falcon study from 2018 noted that 60% of users find a new product that they’re interested in on the app daily. Now, that majority of users can act upon their new finds in a more seamless way.
Ads with Product Tags
Product tags can also go beyond organic reach with the introduction of shoppable ads. “These ads allow you to maximize the reach of your products by boosting shoppable posts,” says Prairie. “Or you can create the ad from scratch in Ads Manager for more creative flexibility. Ads with product tags are able to drive to an owned website or native checkout on Instagram.”
As for the checkout process, it’s nearly seamless, and because of the limited barriers to purchasing (such as taking the user to a separate app or webpage), Prairie suspects that there may be an uptick in completed sales. “Instagram’s implemented checkout works for all eligible businesses in the U.S.” she shares. “For businesses that aren’t yet eligible, it’s still easy to connect the shopping tags to off-site checkout pages.”
As more brands are learning about the power of this new feature — in tandem with the ease provided by using it — they’re rushing to build out their product tags. The sooner you take advantage of this feature, the better. In Prairie’s eyes, it’s almost certain that this new way of shopping will be around for a long, long time, and could seriously change the way online brands do business.