Erin Kelly
Mar 25 · 3 min read

Saw a pair of shoes or sunglasses on Instagram that you were just dying to own? Well, now you can buy them directly on the app.

Yes, Instagram is making impulse shopping even easier.

On March 19, the company announced a new shopping option that lets users purchase products and manage orders directly on the app. The feature will initially be available only to users in the US for 20 brands. The company has already said that it plans to add more brands in the coming months.

“Since our earliest days, people on Instagram have loved to shop,” the company said in a blog post. “They revel in the joy of discovering those perfect suede boots, obsessing over beauty tutorials or snatching up one-of-a-kind sneakers from an exclusive drop. Instagram is a place for people to treat themselves with inspiration, not a place to tax themselves with errands.”

The announcement marks the Facebook-owned company’s latest foray into ecommerce.

Since 2017, brands have been able to include “product tags” on their posts that give users information on items, as well as the option to buy the products from the brand’s website. And according to Instagram, more than 130 million people tap on those tags each month, up from 90 million last September. Now, instead of customers being redirected off the platform, they will be able to shop directly through the app.

How it works

Instagram has said that the motivation behind its announcement is to “enhance the shopping experience by making the purchase simple, convenient and secure.”

When users tap on a product to see its details, a “Checkout on Instagram” option will appear. From there, they can enter information, like their payment details and shipping address. Instagram will also store the data so that it doesn’t have to be entered every time a user wants to buy something.

Given the onslaught of privacy scandals affecting its parent company, Facebook, it’s understandable if some people raise an eyebrow at the suggestion of giving Instagram information on credit cards and home addresses.

In fact, it would be more surprising if people didn’t question it.

However, Instagram has maintained that it doesn’t share payment information with sellers, and that all financial records are kept on secure servers.

What does it mean for brands?

A lot.

The ability for users to shop directly on Instagram holds massive potential for businesses big and small (particularly if Instagram can prove good at avoiding security breaches).

According to Instagram, 80% of users follow at least one business account. And more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile every day.

As Wired put it, for brands, the new in-app shopping option is “like opening a storefront in [a] shopping center where the customers who are most likely to buy from them are automatically directed to their front door.”

When people are forced to leave a platform and go to a different one to complete a task, as was the case previously with Instagram tags, it can create friction in the process and lead to a drop off in user traffic. Keeping purchases in the app will undoubtedly mitigate online cart abandonment stemming from Instagram traffic.

Of course, the convenience of having people purchase your products directly on Instagram means that the company will be taking a cut. Instagram will introduce a “selling fee” to help fund the feature and offset transaction-related expenses, though the company has not disclosed how much the fee will be.

There are also reports that Instagram is working on a standalone shopping app, rumored to be called “IG Shopping.” While there is no indication yet as to whether the standalone app was scrapped in favor of in-app shopping, in its blog post, the company did allude that it will have more ecommerce-related announcements coming soon.

“Checkout is just one part of our long term investment in shopping. We’re excited to introduce even more ways for people to enjoy shopping on Instagram this year.”

For businesses that aren’t yet on Instagram, you might want to add that to your to-do list.

Small Business, Big World

We believe in the power of small business. We believe in their initiative as they embrace the digital world and the global. At Veem, we're helping small businesses do what they do best: grow.

Erin Kelly

Written by

Content writer at Veem, covering stories about the world of small businesses and startups.

Small Business, Big World

We believe in the power of small business. We believe in their initiative as they embrace the digital world and the global. At Veem, we're helping small businesses do what they do best: grow.

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