Almost overnight, Instagram made a shift into the e-commerce space — but how is it changing the way we shop? From entirely shoppable feeds to a whole host of tools aimed at supporting small businesses, there’s no denying that Instagram is on a mission is to turn the app into a streamlined shopping experience.
If you are a small business selling products, you’ll be no stranger to this. Instagram has well and truly changed the way we shop, our purchasing behaviours, how we present and sell our products online and more. In fact, selling on Instagram has never been easier thanks to the new features for Instagram Shopping. Below we look at Instagram’s shift from social media powerhouse to e-commerce selling machine, and what they’ve done to change the way we shop.
Every month, 130 million people tap on an Instagram shopping post… that’s insane. For businesses, Instagram shopping posts are a great way to visually showcase products and drive more sales. Users can go from total inspiration on an Instagram post to actually purchasing that product with just a few clicks. It’s never been so easy. And with Instagram Checkout on the horizon for an Australian launch in the near future, it’ll be made even easier, with users not even having to leave the Instagram app to make purchases.
Instagram Shopping features create the perfect marriage for small businesses looking to bolster their online revenue stream. And it doesn’t stop there. Instagram is continually introducing new features to help users shop on the app, cementing itself as an epic e-commerce destination.
As noted in many of our social media posts in the past few months, Instagram (and parent company, Facebook) released tools and features aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat, in a direct response to COVID-19. While real life shopping experiences were put on hold amid lockdown and social distancing, social media quickly became a valuable revenue stream for retailers, brands, and small businesses worldwide. Here are just a few e-commerce features Instagram released this year within Australia:
· Instagram Shop
· Gift Card and Food Order Stickers
· Expansion of Instagram Shopping to more small businesses and creators
With this significant pivot to e-commerce, it comes at no surprise that online shopping behaviours are also changing, and as we draw closer to the busiest shopping season of the year, let’s take a look at how Instagram is changing how we shop:
· The E-commerce Journey is Designed for Impulse Spending: When the world settled into lockdown in early 2020, it’s no surprise that online shopping saw a spike. And the scroll-to-shop nature didn’t stop once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, especially on Instagram, where the journey from browsing to purchasing is easier than ever. Arguably, Instagram is unrivalled when it comes to serving up shoppable inspirational content — they are essentially offering a tailor-made experience to purchase what you want when you want it. By supporting businesses in getting their product in front of the right audience, Instagram has also reduced the time and effort needed to spend money — it’s a match made in e-commerce heaven.
· Influencers Are a Key Part of the Sales Funnel: If we consider that Instagram is a world where influence reigns supreme, it’s easy to understand how impulse purchases are made. In the real world, we might tell our best friends, family, or colleagues about a product we purchased and liked. This word-of-mouth marketing is already established and proven to be successful. In fact, one report stated that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. But when we take word-of-mouth endorsements and bring it into the influencer marketing world of Instagram, we’ve got a much more powerful tool to evoke an impulse decision. Combined with Instagram’s rollout of Instagram shopping tools to creators, and Shopping from Creators (where influencers can add a brand’s shoppable tags to their posts as part of a paid partnership), there are very few barriers for consumers to get through before they add to cart. So if you’re a brand or business looking for boost online sales, Instagram should be your first port of call. And if there’s scope to integrate influencer marketing into your strategy, there’s a strong likelihood that you can tap into a new audience with a strong spending power!
· Could Tele-Shopping be Making a Comeback?: There’s no denying that Instagram Live has seen a bit of a rebirth in recent months. In fact, Facebook has reported a 70% increase in Live views from February to March as creators and brands found new ways to embrace the platform during social distancing. It seemed like a natural progression for Instagram to release Instagram Live features that help support small businesses and communities during this time. Enter: Live Shopping! Now Live Shopping is yet to be released here in Australia, but over in the US, brands and creators who have access to Instagram Checkout can now tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live. The featured products are shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase. This one small change makes for a serious switch to a QVC-like, live shopping channel! Now viewers can get live purchasing advice from the host — which means you can have live Q&As with your audience, share product details, or give product demos, all with a live link to purchase at the bottom of the screen. Not forgetting that Instagram Live steams can now be watched on desktop, taking that TV-style experience one step closer. So when released here in Australia, Instagram Live Shopping will most certainly be one feature to watch.
As Instagram gears up for an e-commerce-friendly future, now’s the time to test out some of the new tools and features available. If you’re a brand or creator, there’s a whole host of new ways to drive sales and reach new audiences, so it’s worth getting ahead of the curve as social shopping shows no sign of slowing down.