Instagram shopping features: how to sell and buy on the platform

Instagram has an extensive set of features for shopping

Instagram shopping features

Instagram shopping features: how to sell and buy on the platform. Source: instagram-press.com

Combining purchases with diving into the fashionable Insta-world is an exciting pastime for millions of e-commerce fans. It is also a fruitful initiative for the trendsetting platform itself. This article is dedicated to the most useful shopping features available at this photo and video sharing social network. They may become crucial for your business in these harsh times.

How Instagram entered the e-commerce world

As analysts told Business Insider, Instagram’s move to e-sales would be very successful and was expected to generate $10 billion in revenue by 2021.

However, the recent COVID-19 situation is making amendments to these already optimistic projections. Revised estimates from eMarketer show Instagram usage is increasing the most among popular networks. Namely, time spent on Instagram is estimated to grow 14% this year, which equals over 3 minutes of additional time spent by each user each day. This time is a huge opportunity for attracting new customers to brand accounts.

Moreover, as compared to February, the number of users in the US increased by 3.7% which accounts for 4.4 million new active accounts added this March in a single country. Overall, the platform saw a 40%+ increase in usage from the 18 to 34-year-old age group who are the most eager buyers. Millennials are expected to become a major buying force in 2020, when their spending in the United States alone may skyrocket to $1.4 trillion annually.

At the peak of pandemics in March, users posted 6.1 Instagram Stories per day, on average, an increase of 15% week-on-week. Stories’ impressions, meaning views, also increased by 21% during that time.

When we analyze online shopping per se, during the earliest stages of the lockdown in March 2020, customers started to really embrace online shopping with a 21% increase in online orders and 25% growth of page views. April has proved page views and order count are trending upwards, with a 75% increase and a 95% increase respectively.

Instagram shopping features

How Instagram entered the e-commerce world. Source: pixabay.com

In a survey commissioned by Facebook Inc., 83% of respondents said Instagram helps them discover new products and services. Approximately 130 million people tap on Instagram shopping posts monthly to learn more about the products on sale.

In 2019, eMarketer shared another interesting statistic – 11% of the US social media users shop on Instagram. For you to better understand the perspective, we shall remind that 79% of the US population use social media which equals approximately 247 million active users. Hence, over 27 million people shopped on Instagram last year in the US alone.

Instagram Explore

The page is specifically designed to help profiles and businesses gain more engagement and exposure on Instagram. It features new topic channels, a shopping tab, Instagram Stories, and a dedicated space for IGTV (long-form video platform).

If you are lucky to get on Explore, 200 million accounts that visit this page daily can become your potential buyers. With the new shopping channel, there’s a unique customized space for users to shop from the brands they follow, as well as brands they may want to discover.

The Explore page is highly personalized. AI algorithms help to track users’ behaviors on the app, like what accounts they follow, what posts they like and comment on, and what Instagram Stories and IGTV content they love to watch. According to this data, the Explore page makes new suggestions with similar content.

The nice part for brands is that their Stories can be now explored by the target audience who aren’t even their followers yet. Stories posts that have more graphics in them like GIFs and stickers, videos, or other animated elements will get preference in the Instagram Explore feed.

Instagram Explore also categorizes users’ interests according to common topics and hashtags. By tapping on “Shop”, the feed will have category filters in the navigation bar to help users browse specific types of products on Instagram.

Instagram Insights will show info on how many posts were viewed from the Explore page, the number of viewers that were your followers, and those which were not, etc. That can help brands analyze what kind of content is better shared on Instagram Explore and create similar posts.

Instagram Checkout

Instagram shopping features

Instagram now allows shopping without leaving its app. Source: instagram-press.com

The Instagram Checkout feature added last year allowed people to seamlessly buy products pictured in shopping posts without ever leaving the app. The feature is still rolling out regionally, but at least US citizens can enjoy all the comfort of Instagram shopping.

The Shop feature is now available any time you see a small shopping bag icon on an Instagram post. If the Checkout is activated, buyers won’t have to go to the product’s website to complete a purchase, they can do it right on the posting page.

The payment information on Instagram is entered once and safely stored with the platform. The brands that were among the first to embrace the new feature include Nike, Revolve, Burberry, Adidas, Dior, H&M, Kylie Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, and Zara. To see an up-to-date list of the online stores using checkout, please click here.

When you tap to view a product from a brand’s shopping post, you’ll see a “Checkout on Instagram” button. If you proceed to the payment process for the first time, you need to enter your name, email, billing information, and shipping address. The same info will be used for further purchases.

Currently, customers are able to pay with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and PayPal. When the feature expands, businesses will be able to integrate directly or work with partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CommerceHub, and more. Payments are processed in partnership with PayPal.

Buyers can keep track of their purchases with Instagram notifications.

Catalog Manager

To use Instagram Shopping, businesses need to upload their inventory in a catalog and connect it to the relevant account. Managers can also set up an online Instagram shop directly through platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce.

To use Instagram Shopping, businesses need to upload their inventory in a catalog. Source: instagram-press.com

To connect your catalog to an Instagram business account, go to Catalog Manager. This option is best either if you plan on connecting to an existing catalog or creating a new one.

Instagram Shop Looks From Creators

From public figures and artists to entrepreneurs and publishers, creators are a cornerstone of the community on Instagram. Before late 2018, they used ordinary business profiles. However, by switching to a new option of creator profiles, influencers and creators gained access to flexible profile controls, simplified messaging, and more growth tools. Within the Insights tab, they can see how people engage with their account, get more info on followers and audience, including their gender, age range, and location. It also tracks the reach and the total number of impressions of the created content over the last 7 days.

At the same time, a small group of selected creators can tag the brands they are wearing, adding details in the caption. When they join efforts with brands, their results may get twice as impressive.

Only businesses in the shopping checkout beta are able to use the shopping from creators feature. Creators must be using an Instagram Creator or Business Account in order to use this feature. Both creators and the brands they tag will receive shared insights so they can better understand the performance of shopping posts.

Instagram Shopping Posts as Ads

Another feature on the testing stage is the ability to convert existing shopping posts to ads in Ads Manager which uses the same powerful advertising tools as Facebook. It provides precise automated targeting too.

Instagram Shopping Posts as Ads. Source: instagram-press.com

Shoppers who tap on these ads will be taken to a product description page on Instagram and can proceed to buy listed items from the business’ mobile site.

In the future, Instagram plans to build and test the checkout feature as part of these ads.

To run a shopping post as an ad:

  1. Go to Ads Manager.
  2. Select +Create.
  3. Choose an objective (brand awareness, reach, post engagement, link click, conversions are available for shopping posts).
  4. Select an audience.
  5. Select Edit Placements and select Instagram Feed as the only placement.
  6. At the ad set level, select Use Existing Post.
  7. Choose the Shopping Post you’d like to run as an ad.

Only single image shopping posts can be used for this purpose. Carousel, branded content or video posts are not supported to run as ads at this time.

Instagram Shopping Insights

Instagram launched plenty of shopping features. Source: instagram-press.com

This feature illustrates how people interact with your commercial content. It counts how often someone tapped on the product tag to view the product page as well as those who further tapped on the purchase button.

The views are further categorized into those that come directly from one’s Instagram page and those attracted by the Explore community.

Insights are a great tool in times of strategic changes as you can immediately see the reaction to your new campaign.

Tags and Stickers in Stories

To motivate customers to buy items from Stories, you can tag the commodities from your catalogs in both new and existing posts from your professional account or select a suitable sticker from the sticker tray. Stickers and tags aren’t as intrusive as pop-up advertising, and yet they enable users to interact with the post.

The maximum amount you can tag is up to 5 products per single-image post and video posts, or 20 products per multi-image post. However, only 1 product sticker can be added per story.

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