At the initial roll out, Jim Squires, Head of Business at Instagram said: “People come to Instagram every day to discover and buy products from their favourite businesses. We want that to be a seamless experience. Whether it’s a local artisan, florist or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier.”
The small-scale beta trial has been released to a select few big-players on the platform like Marks and Spencer, Heidi Klum and Mahabis (a luxury, unisex slipper brand). An extension that is installed automatically with the most recent update allows accounts to create a ‘shop’ interface whereby you can tag 5 products per image and up to 20 on a multi-image, carousel post. When a follower clicks on the image (shop function is highlighted by a small white circle with an outline of a shopping bag at the bottom right-hand of the image) small tabs appear with the products name and price, much like when another account is tagged in a post, when clicked the tabs take you through to a new page where more information is given and a ‘shop now’ button is provided, only if this is clicked do you get diverted to the retailers website. Whilst the feature is only available for tangible products currently there’s no reason why in the future the feature won’t be able to be used for services.
There’s no clear date as to when this feature will be available to the masses, but your account does need at least 9 posts for the function to be available (we think this is a tad random), but with no charge for the feature as it’s planned to only be used on organic and not paid/sponsored posts the sky is the limit for retailers and businesses who now have another platform to utilise to allow customers to easily (and impulsively on occasion!) buy their products. The functionality although basic currently has rocketed Instagram into becoming a key player in the online ecommerce sphere, and with 37% of UK small business’s saying that they built their company with the assistance of an Instagram account, shopping on Instagram is guaranteed to be big.