If you've tried to promote or sell your products on your Instagram account, you know that it's not exactly the easiest platform to work with.
Although tons of brands make big bucks on Instagram, it requires a little creativity to prompt your customers to click through a link and actually make a purchase.
For example, a brand like Kate Spade might share a beautiful photo of a model walking around New York with a new handbag and hat. These products are obviously for sale on the Kate Spade website, but the company can't share a direct link or even many of the product details unless they try to put it in a comment.
The most popular way to get around this is to tell customers that a link to the product is located in the bio section of the profile. As many of us know, Instagram only allows one link in the bio, and if you're attempting to sell products, this requires you to change the link every time you share a product.
However, a new Instagram Shopping program changes all of that.
Keep in mind that this is just a test program, so only a few large businesses are taking part.
However, it allows users to view an image, click for more product details, then move onto the actual store for purchasing.
Instagram Shopping: What it Looks Like and How it Works
The best way to display how Instagram shopping works is with screenshots. As you can see below, we're looking at a standard Instagram feed.
Let's say you're a customer and you notice a nice handbag that you would like to learn more about. This company has implemented the Instagram Shopping experience, so a Tap to View Products button is revealed towards the bottom of the image.
What's cool about this is that you can have multiple products in one image and link all of them. So, since you clicked on the button, it will immediately show the product names, along with how much they go for.
If you click through to one of these products it reveals even more information about the item. Instagram has done research and revealed that most people aren't going to just buy a product based on an image. Consumers are obviously smarter than than, so they would like to examine product specs, pricing and other details that you would generally find on a regular ecommerce shop.
Therefore, the next page hones in on the product you're thinking about buying. The merchant will have all the room in the world to type up a description, allowing for a more user-friendly shopping experience. What's more is that this product page remains on Instagram.
So, if a customer is only browsing, they don't have to get redirected to the merchant's website until they are absolutely sure that they would like to make the purchase.
And that's the final step. A Buy Now button will be on all of the Instagram Shopping product pages. This is the only moment in which the user will be sent from Instagram to a completely new website.
I like this for a few reasons. First of all, it doesn't seem to inconvenience the casual Instagram viewer who opens Instagram to look at photos. They are not necessarily there to shop, so they're not being sent all over the internet just for showing interest in a product.
Secondly, Instagram is also making it convenient for merchants, since the traffic is eventually sent to the merchant's online store. This varies a little bit from Pinterest Pins and Facebook stores, since you can still measure your traffic and use your valuable website the way it was supposed to be used.
In short, Instagram isn't forcing customers to stick around on the app. If they want to stay on Instagram, they can. If they'd like to go to a store, that's possible as well.
Where Can You Learn More About Instagram Shopping?
This is huge news for just about any online business. You've always been able to post your products in creative ways, but most of the time you would have to share a link in the comments or tell people to click the profile link.
Lots of news is coming out about the Instagram Shopping tool, but the best place to learn more is at the actual Instagram business page.
They have several videos and screenshots for you to see the tool in action, and you can follow along for additional updates if you want.
I would also recommend checking out the Product Hunt page for this, since various business people are discussing on that page, and you can get in on that.
For example, I didn't even think about it at first, but someone mentioned in the Product Hunt comments that this could be the end to all third-party shoppable Instagram tools. I mean, that's a huge blow to many of those companies, yet it makes a much easier interface for businesses looking to sell their items and reach out to new customers.
When Should You Expect to Start Seeing Instagram Shopping?
As we've discussed a little above, Instagram is already in the process of rolling out the functionality. Around 20 large companies are partnering with Instagram to test out how it works. So, if you want to see Instagram Shopping in action, start following companies like Kate Spade, JackThreads, and Warby Parker.
Also, an update: Merchants can now tag products on Instagram that link directly to a Shopify product page.
The whole point is to give customers a more fruitful shopping experience, with details, pictures, prices and all sorts of information you would want before making a purchase.
Consider following these brands on Instagram to get a taste of what's to come in the future. We're all crossing our fingers that it works out because I'm assuming after the test run we're going to start seeing the program released to all online shops.
Regardless, keep your eye on the developments, because this is some pretty exciting stuff.
If you have any thoughts about Instagram Shopping or would like to ask us any questions, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below.