Shopping on Instagram for Ecommerce Businesses: The Benefits and How It Works

Reading Time: 7 mins

Instagram’s shopping service expanded into the UK back in March 2018, and is becoming a very viable option for ecommerce retailers to expand their audience and attract new customers online.

What’s shopping on Instagram all about?

Shopping on Instagram allows customers a new way to engage and shop with your brand. It lets your Instagram page turn into a visual storefront, where Instagram users can browse your product range without leaving the platform.

Marks & Spencer, Heidi Klein and Mahabis were among the first brands to try the platform in a small beta trial, with Instagram Shopping having been in place in the US since October 2017.

Similar to regular posts, you can choose a photo, tag the post with products, add filters and a caption and let people browse and buy your products.

Shopping posts gives Instagram users access to pricing and product details within the Instagram feed itself, alongside the Shop button which is displayed on your business profile. When shoppers tap on a post, they can then take click through to learn more about the products in question.

How does shopping on Instagram work?

Instagram Shopping allows online retailers to link to products on their own websites, and list particular pieces of product information such as the price.

This is a much clearer vision compared to the more traditional way of selling goods on the platform, notorious for not having links in photo captions, which was where sellers would caption product photos with “link in bio”. Whereby the link in the biography under the profile section at the top of their page would link through to the desired page in question. Not ideal.

Sellers can tag up to 5 products per image post. Multi-image posts allow for 20 products. When someone taps a tag on your post on Instagram, they will see:

  • Image of the product
  • Product description
  • Price of product
  • Link to the website to purchase

As it stands you can only sell physical items. After 9 posts on an account, the option to Shop is then available which lets users view tagged sale items. And at the moment, you cannot promote shopping posts – though this is likely coming relatively soon.

Instagram gets to see valuable data on purchasing habits and how to best target advertising online.

From Instagram’s website:

  • Simple post creation
    • Tagging products is easy. Choose photos you’d like to feature, tag up to five products per image or up to twenty products per carousel, add filters or captions and you’re good to go. You can also save drafts or preview your posts.
  • Improved consideration
    • Shopping posts give people quick access to pricing and product details both within the Instagram feed and via the Shop tab on a business profile. By tapping on a post, people can take the next step to learn more about products that inspire them from the brands they love.
  • Easier path to purchase
    • Once someone has learned more about a product they like through a shopping post, they can tap “Shop Now” to go directly to your mobile site.

Instagram is also now testing Shopping in Instagram Stories – which allows brands to put product stickers within Stories. With these stickers, this allows shoppers to see information quickly about products without leaving a brand’s Story.

How has shopping on Instagram performed so far?

Here’s some quotes from Instagram’s website:

Shopping on Instagram accomplishes one of the most critical tasks in improving ecommerce performance: it makes it easier to buy. With one click, our audience can go directly to the product page and add to their basket. Reducing search time and clicks improves conversion and revenue. When we launched the feature, we experienced a 25% increase in traffic and an 8% increase in revenue attributable to shopping on Instagram.

Our traffic from Instagram has increased by 44% since implementing shopping on Instagram. It’s a clean and simple way to show your product in a lifestyle setting, without affecting the user experience.
Lulus has been using the shopping on Instagram feature since its testing stages, so we’ve been able to grow with the platform as it has evolved. We have seen tremendous value and growth over the course of our experience using the tool. We’ve found as Instagram users become accustomed to seeing these native shopping experiences, they are more inclined to shop on Instagram. We’ve experimented with new ways to inspire followers to shop, from creating unique outfits in which every item is available for purchase, to showcasing user generated content, to giving shoppers real-life ideas for how to wear the items they purchase from Lulus. Since its launch, shopping on Instagram can be directly attributed to over 1,200 orders and over 100,000 sessions.

What are the benefits of shopping on Instagram?

Consider the following statistics on why implementing shopping via your Instagram business profile is worthwhile:

  • 800 million accounts actively used worldwide each month
  • 80% of users follow companies
  • 60% of users get to know products via Instagram
  • 200 million accounts visit 1 or more business profiles daily

On top of the exposure, there are numerous reasons that shopping can really enhance your social media presence, as well as your overall sales:

  • Shortened customer journey in 2 clicks
  • Inspiration leading directly to purchases
  • Another avenue for traffic
  • More engagement with posts
  • Extra revenue
  • Showcasing lifestyle images with products involved
  • Customers can picture themselves with the product through quality images
  • User-generated photos can be used to promote products
  • Collaboration with other brands

Of course, your own ecommerce storefront should be the most important element in ensuring this all works. So make sure your website is optimised for conversions for when people click-through from your Instagram business profile.

But otherwise, it’s very worthwhile implementing shopping on Instagram if you haven’t already, and you’re already selling online. If your target demographic is definitely using Instagram, then it’s a great way to drive more traffic, inspire more customers, and ultimately generate extra sales you otherwise wouldn’t get.