Instagram Shopping has become available for UK retailers today in a bid to enable a more seamless shopping experience and drive retail spending via the app.

Users on Instagram can tap an item in a company post—such as a pair of shoes—and the product information will be presented in a small pop-up tag on the image. They are then able to buy directly from the brand’s website inside the app without having to search for the product in an independent browser.

The UK launch of Instagram Shopping coincides with its introduction in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The feature was already launched in the US last year, which saw a number of companies report an increase in traffic and sales.

Why it matters

The new feature gives 25 million business accounts the capability to seamlessly sell their products to a market of over 800 million monthly users, 80% of whom follow a business account.

Combining social media and retail is not a new phenomenon, with Facebook Shop already giving businesses the ability to sell products in-app or check out on another website.

 

While Facebook Shop operates with a more conventional online retail format—shoppers browse a product page—Instagram Shopping posts appear organically as a user is scrolling through their social feed. Removing the barriers between social and retail makes the transition from inspiration to purchase a more seamless process and increases the likelihood of impulse purchases.

At present, Instagram told Verdict it has no plans to charge commission or directly monetise the Shopping feature, but it is expected to bring further traffic to an app which already draws 500 million users a day.

What was said

However, GlobalData digital retail lead analyst Andreas Olah says that a seamless shopping experience is “not expected to be the case for most retailers that offer their products on Instagram”.

“Since purchases are completed not on Instagram itself but via a link to the retailer’s website, customers would still need to enter payment and shipping details, which is likely to result in some abandoned baskets,” he said.

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“Retailers also need to ensure that the back-end infrastructure is set up in a secure and efficient way to avoid any potential data breaches, downtimes and other errors that could negatively impact the user experience.”

Instagram also offers retailer data metrics on product posts.

“Being able to convert interest in a product on Instagram to a sale, and also be able to track the traffic to your site gives retailers much more insight on the power of Instagram to attract business to your site,” GlobalData head of retail Maureen Hinton said.