After edging towards eCommerce for some time, and evolving its various tools to better facilitate on-platform shopping, Instagram is currently taking the next step with the introduction of a brand new checkout option within the app.
As you can see, the new process takes Instagram’s ‘Shopping Tags’ to the next level – currently, rather than a ‘View on Website’ button once you tap through, users can see a ‘Checkout on Instagram’ option, which will enable them to make a purchase right there and then, before returning straight back to their Insta feed.
There are, of course, a couple of significant provisos at this stage. Right now, the process is being launched in closed beta, which means that it’s not accessible to all brands. In fact, solely 23 businesses are taking part in the initial trial, and the process will solely be available to users in the U.S.A.
Moving into in-stream payments is a massive step, thus it makes sense for Instagram to take it slow – although it may be frustrating for businesses who’ve been waiting for the platform’s shopping Tags to evolve.
And on payments, Instagram will store your payment information after your initial in-app purchase, and use that for future shopping, thus you simply need to enter your details once.
«Once your initial order is complete, your information will be securely saved for convenience the next time you shop. You’ll also receive notifications regarding shipment and delivery right within Instagram, thus you can keep track of your purchase”.
Users are going to be able to track their purchases via a new ‘Orders’ tab on their profile – and as noted by TechCrunch, the merchants themselves will solely be provided with essential info.
«Merchants will solely get the details necessary to fulfill an order, together with contact info and address, but not your actual payment info. Users will see an opt-in option to share their email address with the seller for marketing purposes. Checkout with Instagram could leave merchants with a little less information than if the purchase happened on their web site; however Instagram says it will provide data on which sales it generates for a merchant”.
Instagram is additionally charging businesses a fee for each transaction facilitated, giving it another revenue stream. And as the program expands, that stream could become significant.
Indeed, given Instagram’s growth, it’s safe to assume that a heap of brands will be very keen to get in on the new process. Instagram currently has more than a billion monthly active users, and the visual focus of the platform has made it particularly popular for product discovery.
Facebook underlined this in a recent study, which surveyed over 21,000 Instagram users in 13 countries to gain additional insight into why and how they use the app.
As noted, Instagram’s been nudging into eCommerce for some time – the platform first announced its shopping Tags feature for posts back in 2016, and has slowly expanded them to more businesses and into Stories.
Late last year, Instagram also announced a new ‘Shop’ tab on business profiles, and the addition of shopping Collections to assist users keep tabs on various products they’re interested in. It additionally added shopping Tags for videos, and a shopping feed in the Explore section, further increasing the platform’s eCommerce potential.
Given the various components, everything is currently coming into line for Instagram as it looks to take the next step. As noted, it’s limited at this stage, and it won’t become available to all brands, or in all regions, for some time. however this might become a giant money play for the platform, expanding the revenue potential for parent company Facebook beyond ads, which are already reaching peak load on its platforms.
It’s not going to revolutionize your Insta experience or your marketing approach immediately, however it’ll eventually. This is a significant step for Instagram, which is why it needs to take careful, measured steps. However the introduction of full, in-stream shopping is a massive move, and could significantly shift the platform’s focus moving forward.
And once you also couple this with Facebook’s investigations into an alternate payment system via Blockchain.
This is the first massive step for The Social Network.