Is Instagram the Next E-Commerce Giant?
Is Instagram the Next E-Commerce Giant?
Is Instagram the Next E-Commerce Giant?

Fancy some Instagram shopping? E-commerce on the platform is easier than ever with Instagram’s recent release of shoppable tags. This feature allows brands to provide additional information on products they share on Instagram. Through the shoppable tags tool, all of the steps a consumer takes before actually buying a product happen on Instagram itself.

Users can view the names and prices of items tagged in brands’ photos using a tap to view icon at the bottom of the image. Clicking the product tags themselves reveals more detailed information, including a product description, additional images, other related products and links to purchase them.

Here’s an example of how prescription eyewear brand Warby Parker is using the new feature:

Currently, Instagram has given only 20 brand partners the ability to create shoppable tags. However, there’s no doubting that other brands will want to try out the feature once it’s available to them. To get a better idea of what shoppable tags mean for retailers on Instagram, we spoke with Erica Jenkins, the Chief Product Officer of social media analytics platform Sysomos.

Social Media Explorer: Do you think Instagram’s shoppable tags will shake up e-commerce for brands and consumers?

Erica: I believe this is a realistic step that Instagram knew it had to make. Facebook has a similar feature with Calls to Action, but it’s not embedded within a product or band image like Instagram’s shoppable tags. This new enhancement shows the value of paid advertising on Instagram and the relationship between an Instagram campaign and both purchase intent and execution. This might not be a shakeup, but it enhances Instagram’s value for e-commerce brands.

Does Sysomos plan on taking any steps to incorporate this feature into its social media analytics platform?

Erica: This is something we’re looking to incorporate into the Sysomos platform to support social campaigns and publishing. Currently, there isn’t an API endpoint to support, but Instagram has stated that in the alpha, brands could tag up to five unique clicks. It will be interesting to see if that is too many clicks, or if brands will act smart and create a “buy all” shopping cart experience to capture a total purchase.

How do you expect your clients to respond to shoppable tags? Does this feature address any concerns they have expressed in the past about using Instagram for their business?

Erica: Since it’s a new feature, clients who are tracking CTR, web conversions and other social-to-website traffic will want to test it. Unfortunately, Instagram still lacks the capability for web publishing to their platform and is missing a key function in which governance over all Instagram brand publishing can be managed by third-party tools.

What steps should brands take in order to make the most of shoppable tags? (i.e. deciding which critical KPIs to track, adjusting their content, utilizing influencer marketing, etc.)

Erica: I err on the side of lightly introducing these tags rather than immediately trying multiple tags on every image. I recommend that brands use a tag on the key piece that their brand wants to highlight and then complement it with suggestions on the website to purchase more. Since this is on mobile, going back to click on more tags will be a challenge; less is more with this content. With influencer marketing, a huge trend many brands already implement as part of their ongoing programs, this feature will just add to the ways brands can harness their follower bases more effectively and accurately measure which influencer drove traffic to their website.

Instagram is increasingly catering towards brands with the introduction of shoppable tags, “Business Tools”, the “Shop Now” button, etc. Where do you see the platform headed in the future in terms of “Instagram for Business”?

Erica: In order to keep advertising dollars flowing, Instagram will need to continue to define business accounts differently so they can ensure people and brands remain authentic and prevent them from buying reach/impressions like other media channels. It just happens to be mobile only. However, that’s where the future is headed if you look at where consumers spend their time on social.

About the Author

Maha Chaudhry
Maha Chaudhry works at Renegade LLC, a social-inspired marketing agency. She recently graduated from Princeton University, where she studied psychology and health policy. Her interests include fashion and beauty in digital media.

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