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Social Media & E-Commerce Blog Posts

Social Shopping: How Instagram is Changing the Way We Shop

Updated on November 11, 2020
9 minute read

Almost overnight, Instagram made a shift into the e-commerce space — but how is it changing the way we shop? With a brand new menu shortcut, curated shoppable feeds,  and a whole host of tools aimed at supporting small businesses, there’s no denying that Instagram is on a mission is to turn the app into

Published November 11, 2020

Almost overnight, Instagram made a shift into the e-commerce space — but how is it changing the way we shop?

With a brand new menu shortcut, curated shoppable feeds,  and a whole host of tools aimed at supporting small businesses, there’s no denying that Instagram is on a mission is to turn the app into a streamlined shopping experience.

We’re sharing all the details of Instagram’s recent shopping updates, as well as what to expect from Instagram’s shift from social to e-commerce:

How Instagram is Changing Shopping Experiences

In case you missed it, e-commerce is now a big thing on Instagram.

With the latest app update, users can now discover shoppable products straight from the main navigation menu – making it easier than ever to discover products and shop from brands.

Every month, 130 million people tap on an Instagram shopping post, and Instagram Checkout is now available for all eligible businesses and creators in the US.

For businesses, shoppable Instagram posts are a great way to visually showcase products and drive more sales.

And, thanks to Instagram Checkout, users can go from inspiration to purchase without ever leaving the Instagram app.

It’s the perfect marriage for small businesses looking to bolster their online revenue stream.

And it doesn’t stop there. Instagram is continually introducing new features to help users shop on the app.

Instagram recently announced the global rollout of Instagram Shopping across IGTV — and said they will start testing shopping on Instagram Reels — Instagram’s answer to the viral video app TikTok — this year.

With this in mind, users could soon be able to view and purchase products directly from almost every part of the app: Instagram from feed posts, Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, IGTV, and Reels.

Instagram has also released several tools and features aimed at helping small businesses stay afloat during COVID-19. While IRL shopping experiences were put on hold amid lockdown and social distancing, social media quickly became a valuable revenue stream for retailers, brands, and small businesses worldwide.

Here are just a few e-commerce features Instagram released this year:

With this significant pivot to e-commerce, it comes at no surprise that online shopping behaviors are also changing.

Want to know how to make more sales on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Social Selling now!

How Instagram is Changing Shopping #1: Discovery Feeds are Fully Shoppable and Curated

Imagine walking into a store where everything stocked on the shelves suitably matched your personal style, wish list, and price point — that could result in some serious spending!

And that’s what Instagram is working towards.

Thanks to the already established and super-savvy Instagram algorithm, our Home feeds are tailored to our likes and dislikes — content the algorithm thinks we’ll like most is surfaced to the top of our Home feed.

When we take that concept to the new Instagram Shop feed, we’re stepping into a curated, personalized, shoppable destination.

The new shopping destination allows users to “Browse Shops,” “See Editors Picks,” “Explore Guides,” and “Shop Collections,” making finding inspiration and shopping directly in the Instagram app much more streamlined.

As you scroll through Instagram Shop, you might be surprised by just how much you want to add to the cart. And that’s not by accident.

Through this new feed, Instagram has found a way to show you more of what you’re highly likely to buy — all based on previous engagement, the posts and brands you follow, and engagement of users similar to you.

There’s even a handy “Wishlist” collection, that curates the shoppable products you’ve previously saved.

As a brand, you can assume that if a user stumbles upon your shoppable post in the new Instagram Shop feed, their intent to buy is quite high. So there’s a real opportunity to convert your followers (old and new!) into customers, simply by posting shoppable posts to your feed.

Learn more about Instagram Shop in this blog post.

How Instagram is Changing Shopping #2: The E-commerce Journey is Designed for Impulse Spending

When the world settled into lockdown in early 2020, it’s no surprise that online shopping saw a spike.

In fact, a survey by Engine found that people were spending on average 10-30% more online when social distancing first began in early March.

And the scroll-to-shop nature didn’t stop once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, especially on Instagram, where the journey from browsing to purchasing is easier than ever.

In early summer, Facebook launched its biggest move into e-commerce yet: Facebook Shops!

Don’t be put off by the name (or be confused by Instagram Shop above) — this new feature allows small businesses to build online stores on Facebook and Instagram, and you’ll even be able to tag products during live broadcasts!

In Zuckerberg’s own words: “This is the biggest step we’ve taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps.”

On Facebook Business Pages or Instagram profiles, brands can build out a catalog of products and services that visitors can browse, save, share, and even purchase.

Arguably, Instagram is unrivaled when it comes to serving up shoppable inspirational content — they are essentially offering a tailor-made experience to purchase what you want when you want it.

By supporting businesses in getting their product in front of the right audience, Instagram has also reduced the time and effort needed to spend money —  it’s a match made in e-commerce heaven.

Plus this goes beyond just mega brands. Instagram also announced that shopping and e-commerce features will be rolled out to smaller businesses and a whole new category of users: creators.

According to the announcement, “whether you are a candle business making a foray into e-commerce, a musician selling merchandise, or a food blogger expanding into your own cookware line,” you can use Instagram Shopping to make sales on Instagram.

How Instagram is Changing Shopping #3: Influencers Are a Key Part of the Sales Funnel

If we consider that Instagram is a world where influence reigns supreme, it’s easy to understand how impulse purchases are made.

In the real world, we might tell our best friends, family, or colleagues about a product we purchased and liked.

This word-of-mouth marketing is already established and proven to be successful. In fact, one report stated that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.

But when we take word-of-mouth endorsements and bring it into the influencer marketing world of Instagram, we’ve got a much more powerful tool to evoke an impulse decision.

Combined with Instagram’s rollout of Instagram shopping tools to creators, and Shopping from Creators (where influencers can add a brand’s shoppable tags to their posts as part of a paid partnership), there are very few barriers for consumers to get through before they add to cart.

So if you’re a brand or business looking for boost online sales, Instagram should be your first port of call.

And if there’s scope to integrate influencer marketing into your strategy, there’s a strong likelihood that you can tap into a new audience with a strong spending power!

Learn more about Influencer Marketing and how COVID-19 has impacted the industry in this blog post.

How Instagram is Changing Shopping #4: Could Tele-Shopping be Making a Comeback?

There’s no denying that Instagram Live has seen a bit of a rebirth in recent months.

In fact, Facebook has reported a 70% increase in Live views from February to March as creators and brands found new ways to embrace the platform during social distancing.

It seemed like a natural progression for Instagram to release Instagram Live features that help support small businesses and communities during this time.

Enter: Live Shopping!

Brands and creators who have access to Instagram Checkout can now tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalog before going live. The featured products are shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.

This one small change makes for a serious switch to a QVC-like, live shopping channel! Now viewers can get live purchasing advice from the host — which means you can have live Q&As with your audience, share product details, or give product demos, all with a live link to purchase at the bottom of the screen.

Not forgetting that Instagram Live steams can now be watched on desktop, taking that TV-style experience one step closer.

Tina Craig (@bagsnob) was one of the first to use the new Live feature promoting her latest product launches from her brand @ubeauty.

And with influencer marketing opportunities only growing on Instagram, soon enough, it might be the norm to shop from an influencer’s Instagram live.

It’s a win-win on both sides.

For brands, they can rely on influencers to promote and recommend their products to a new and engaged audience.

And for consumers, it opens up a way for us to communicate with both brands and influencers endorsing products, to make a far more educated purchasing decision.

Don’t forget about the added advantage of the simple customer journey to purchase. This shopping channel-style experience may be the next big thing for brands.

As Instagram gears up for an e-commerce-friendly future, now’s the time to test out some of the new tools and features available.

If you’re a brand or creator, there’s a whole host of new ways to drive sales and reach new audiences, so it’s worth getting ahead of the curve as social shopping shows no sign of slowing down.

Want to get organized on Instagram? Don’t forget you can plan, schedule and auto-publish to Instagram with Later — for free!

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