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What Instagram Shopping Means for Frictionless Commerce

Last November, Instagram started testing a new shopping experience with a small group of businesses, in order to make it easier for users to discover and explore products on the platform. Realizing that consumers don’t instantly see a photo that inspires them and move from that point of discovery to desire purchase in an instant, Instagram saw an opportunity to provide an in-platform experience that allows the consumer to learn more, thus facilitating the the path to purchase. At the time, we wrote about what the update would mean for the broader industry, including our perspective on how Instagram will continue to innovate and monetize the feature.

While the initial test focused on 20 brands, now, after encouraging results, the company is gearing up to enable thousands of brands to activate the experience of product discovery on their profiles. The expanded capability will focus on a few industries that have shown especially promising results, specifically, the apparel, jewelry, and beauty verticals. According to Jim Squires, Instagram’s director of product marketing, “People are in this discovery mind-set [on Instagram] and they want to go further. So what we’ve done is remove that friction and just allow you to, when you’re interested, to quickly go and explore further. We decided to start with apparel, jewelry and beauty because from a consumer perspective there’s a lot of interest in those categories.”

How Will it Work?

Instagram’s shopping mechanism will allow brands to tag products directly within posts. Within each post, brands will be able to tag up to five products from a product catalog on their Facebook Shops. An icon will appear on the media to indicate to a user that the post has a new layer of shopping activated. When someone taps an image and into a tag, he or she will enter a detailed view which will showcase the desired product with a description, post, and “shop now” link driving directly to the business’ website. If a business tags multiple products in a post, the product-details view will resemble a carousel, which users can easily swipe through to see the products featured in the initial post. Additionally, Instagram will be rolling out post insights in the weeks following the initial launch, so businesses can better understand how users engage with the feature.

What Does it Mean?

Certainly, there is immense value for brands hoping to shorten the path-to-purchase from their customers, but also, consumers are set to benefit greatly from the feature. As a consumer myself, it is often discouraging to discover a product on social media and have no easy way to get more information about the product details, availability, or clear way to purchase it from a retailer. As more and more consumers turn to social to find inspiration for home decor, fashion, beauty, and travel, creating frictionless buying experiences will be critical to turning digital interest into real revenue.

Olapic, along with many other technology providers, has been enabling shoppable Instagram experiences for some time. While others in the space may see this move from Instagram as a threat to their business model, as a strategic Facebook and Instagram partner, we have long anticipated this to be the next step in their evolution. As such, we’ve taken strides to help our customers take advantage of recent social updates, including Instagram shopping, Instagram Stories Ads, and Shop the Look which Pinterest recently rolled out.  

These updates speak to a growing industry emphasis toward “distributed” or “connected” commerce. Modern consumers are reaching the “I-want-to-buy” moment at various points throughout the buying cycle, and for brands to succeed, they must engage and convert these audiences with meaningful, shoppable content at all touch points. This requires both consistent creation of high-quality, personalized content, as well as backend technology to enable frictionless commerce across channels, including on brands’ owned website properties.

Continuing  our commitment to mobile-first, frictionless commerce, Olapic is excited to introduce a new shoppable product called “Inspire.” Currently in beta, Inspire enables brands to bring the point of inspiration closer to the point of commerce,  turning any brand image across their website into interactive shoppable displays instead of compelling but passive images.  Using easy-to-place hotspots overlaid on an image, customers are able to add any products showcased in an image directly to a cart from anywhere on the brand’s website, including homepages, category pages, or lookbooks. This allows customers to shop all displayed products quickly and easily, without disrupting their site user experience in having to search through category of product pages.

As our industry continues to hurtle toward a future of connected or distributed commerce, we look forward to working with our innovative clients and social technology platforms like Instagram to enable better, more intelligent shopping experiences for consumers.

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