Instagram launched a small-scale global test of its Instagram Shop tab this week, allowing select users to shop from brands and creators using a new tab on the app’s navigation bar. Users with the tab can filter products by categories, searching through the platform as they do on Instagram Explore.
The move may prove to be a boon for e-commerce stores, marketers and digital PR pros. Accessed via the main navigation bar, brands can search through beauty products, clothing, home, accessories and travel products on offer, just as they would on eBay or Amazon. Though not all products allow users to check out directly from the Instagram cart—some brands still direct users to their own website to complete a transaction—the Instagram Checkout feature is still available for a small selling fee.
The Instagram Shop feature was first launched in May and has already helped countless small businesses grow their sales.
“When we launched the feature,” said Shari Lott, founder of kids apparel brand Spearmint Love, “we experienced a 25 percent increase in traffic and an eight percent increase in revenue attributable to shopping on Instagram.”
With more than 500 million Instagram users on the platform daily, it’s no surprise that Instagram provides an essential tool for small businesses determined to boost their exposure. But how exactly does Instagram Shop work for businesses?
First, Instagram Shop reduces friction. The Internet is a noisy place, and there are countless businesses competing for attention at all hours. It can be very difficult, then, to pull a customer’s attention away from what they’re doing and toward a store. This is where Instagram offered an ingenious solution, by allowing brands to take their store directly to the customer.
Brands can already do this by inviting users to follow their account so that product images show up in their feeds, and the Instagram Shop feature makes it even easier for users to browse shop catalogues, check prices and garner more information about a product.
Second, the new Shop tab will help brands reach users with an existing intent to purchase. In other words, images that are tagged appropriately will show up in the Instagram Shop tab to users who are already electing to search through purchasable products. Businesses can focus their engagement, then, on customers more likely to buy something in the first place.
At the moment, the branded products can still get lost in the sea of memes, aesthetic photography and influencer selfies that tend to dominate users’ feeds. Until now, the only option available to businesses keen to boost exposure has been to pay for sponsored posts. With the new Instagram Shop tab, brands can finally join a designated marketplace on the platform.
For brands already selling on Instagram, the introduction of the Shop tab is sure to boost their exposure to new and existing audiences. The new feature will be made available universally later this year, though an exact date hasn’t yet been announced. Businesses should take advantage of this interval to overhaul their Instagram strategies and make the most of the change.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading NY PR firm.