Instagram’s new seamless eCommerce

  • On March 28, 2019

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Instagram’s emphasis on clean, high-quality visuals make it the ideal showcase for products and for shopping for its one billion monthly users.  Last week the Facebook-owned platform took another big step towards becoming a digital shopping mall with the launch of Instagram Checkout.  This new feature, currently a closed beta involving US mobile users and just over 20 retail partners, allows you to browse, shop and pay for products without ever leaving the app.  Brands selected for the trial include some of the most popular on Instagram such as Nike and Adidas and the digital native brand Kylie Cosmetics.  In return for their use of Instagram Checkout, they will pay Instagram a small selling fee.

Checkout is not Instagram’s first foray into eCommerce.  In February 2018, the platform launched Instagram Shopping and then in September 2018 introduced Shoppable Stories and Explore. These features have already helped to make Instagram one of the best shopping experiences online with more than 130 million users a month tapping to reveal product tags in shopping posts. However, what makes Checkout different from these other features is that it removes the need for shoppers to migrate to a third-party website and manually enter payment information when they see an item they wish to purchase.  This innovation makes the whole shopping experience seamless and consequently more likely to capture impulsive buyers as Jimmy Duvall of BigCommerce, the technology company which partnered with Instagram on the Checkout feature, explains:

“As consumers, we want a quick and easy shopping experience, and merchants – pushing to increase conversion and loyalty – want to do whatever they can to simplify this experience for their customers.  Removing that additional barrier to conversion is just one way to improve checkout – but one that will make a significant difference for both merchants and consumers, and result in increased sales.”

How will Instagram Checkout work?

In simple terms, Instagram Checkout will work by attaching a blue “Checkout on Instagram” button to organic posts that have been published by the 20 + major fashion and beauty brands participating in the beta. 

Checkout on Instagram
Source: Instagram

When you see an item you would like to buy in a participating retailer’s shopping post, you tap to view the product, then tap the product tag to see the product details and whether Instagram Checkout is available.  Next, you select the options for the product you want to buy and a blue “Checkout on Instagram” button appears on the screen.  After tapping “Checkout on Instagram”, you will be asked to provide your contact, payment and delivery details and then tap “Place Order”. Instagram will save your data securely for future purchases. 

The plan is for brands to be able to integrate their existing tools with the Instagram Checkout feature. Instagram is partnering with a number of technology companies in the development of Instagram Checkout including Shopify, BigCommerce, Channel Advisor and Commerce Hub.

Why is Instagram Checkout relevant for brands?

Firstly, Instagram Checkout is relevant for brands in that, as mentioned above, the streamlined and seamless online shopping experience it offers is likely to inspire users to shop more and will therefore lead to a higher purchase conversion rate. 

Secondly, Instagram Checkout highlights the potential for brands to convert social media popularity into sales.  Many brands are already investing heavily in Instagram-focused influencer marketing campaigns in order to drive sales.  Given the detailed dossier that Instagram has on each and every one of its one billion users, brands looking to achieve a ROI on their influencer marketing are likely to find Instagram Checkout particularly appealing.

Thirdly, the new Checkout takes Instagram one step closer to becoming a fully-fledged digital shopping mall. The platform replicates the real-life experience of browsing and shopping better than any other app.  It is Instagram’s algorithm that determines the content that users see and brands participating in Checkout might be treated more favorably than those which do not.

Lastly, if the beta is successful and Instagram decides to roll out their Checkout and expand it to include many more than the original 23 brands, the feature could enable smaller brands to make substantial savings by relieving them of the need to invest in their own online storefront.  Smaller brands who choose to participate might decide to sell directly on Instagram rather than through their own website.

Instagram

Product eContent and Mobile Hero Images are the catalysts to success

Shopping is not just about intent, it’s also about inspiration.  The launch of Instagram Checkout highlights the vital importance for brands to have exceptional eContent that can overcome the virtual world barrier and inspire consumers.  Given that over 50% of consumers use their mobile devices to browse for products online, it is also crucial for brands to use Mobile Hero Images, product images that have been optimized for mobile phones.

At the eBusiness Institute, our experts understand how effective Mobile Hero Images and compelling product descriptions can be used to convey everything that a consumer would gain from a physical interaction with the product. These are essential if brands are to create an attractive and rewarding shopping experience for consumers and have a storefront in the digital mall of the future.

 

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