In the 10 years since Instagram launched, the platform has transformed from a simple photo-sharing app to a full-scale sales channel.
With multiple shopping-specific features (like Shopping Tags, Instagram Checkout, and Shopping from Creators ), Instagram has essentially closed the gap between product discovery and purchase on the app.
This is obviously a huge deal for businesses that sell products or services online.
Luckily, it’s super easy to get started with Instagram’s shopping tools.
But before we jump into the how-to’s, let’s take a brief moment to look at some of the reasons why Instagram has become such a powerhouse for social commerce:
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 ultra-savvy Instagram algorithm, our Home Feeds and Explore Pages are tailored to our past behavior, including the accounts we interact with, the content we like and comment on, and much, much more.
Instagram has essentially built a curated and completely personalized shopping experience.
As a brand, you can assume that if someone stumbles upon your shoppable post, their intent to buy is quite high, as they’ve probably liked, commented, or engaged with similar product posts in their feed.
So there’s a real opportunity to convert your followers (old and new) into customers, simply by sharing shoppable posts.
And thanks to the rollout of Instagram Checkout, the journey from inspiration to acquisition is shorter than ever before.
Shoppers can go from browsing to buying in seconds, all without ever leaving Instagram. It’s the perfect recipe for impulse spending.
You can’t possibly mention shopping on Instagram without including influencers, who have helped transform the way brands reach their customers.Source: @jenatkinhair
An influencer is a trusted resource for Instagram users to review products, make suggestions, and now, with the rollout of Shopping from Creators (which allows influencers to add a brand’s shoppable tags to their posts), they can drive sales directly on behalf of brands.
Instagram has some fairly strict requirements when it comes to getting set up with their shopping features. This ensures that only genuine retailers and e-commerce brands are able to make sales via the app.
Here are some of the requirements needed (and you can find more details on them here):
If you meet all these requirements, you can create a catalog for your products. There are two ways to do this:
Go to your Facebook Business Page, and click the Shop tab. If you can’t see the Shop tab straight away, you may need to change your Page template to the Shopping template – just follow these steps to do that.
NOTE: If you’re using Shopify or BigCommerce to manage your product catalog, you can choose to set up a shop on Facebook directly through those platforms! It’s a really easy way to manage all your online shop and product catalogs in one place.
Once you’ve set up your Facebook shop or connected a product catalog on your Business Manager account, Instagram will review your account before granting access to the shopping features.
As soon as you’re approved, you’ll receive notifications from Instagram to let you know that you can start tagging products in your content.
Instagram has always been a great place for product discovery and inspiration.
But in the last few years, Instagram has really made it easy for businesses to connect their audiences with the products and services they sell.
As a business, you can use Instagram’s e-commerce features to help push your current audience down the funnel (and also attract new customers who don’t currently follow you).
Here’s a quick run through of the all-important features:
Once you get set up with Instagram Shopping, you can start adding Shopping Tags to highlight products in your Instagram posts (including photo, video, and carousel posts).Source: @mdtlondon
To tag products within an Instagram post, start by uploading a photo as you normally would, and then tap “Tag Products” to tag a product from your Facebook catalog.
You can feature up to five products per image or video post, and up to 20 products on multi-image (carousel) posts. You can also go back and add shopping tags to old posts on your business profile.
When someone taps a Shopping Tag on your post, they’ll be taken to a product description page where they will see: an image of the product, a product description, how much the product costs, and a link that takes them directly to your website where they can purchase the product.Source: @agolde
For brands with Instagram Checkout enabled (more on this later), users in the US can complete the purchasing process directly within the Instagram app.
Instagram is also planning to launch AR experiences within product description pages, allowing users to virtually try products before making a purchase.
Like with shopping posts, once you get set up with Instagram Shopping, you can start tagging products in your stories using the Shopping Sticker.Source: @by_aylinkoenig
Stories can feature one product sticker per story and you can adjust the color and text of product stickers.
There’s no denying that Instagram Live has experienced a bit of a rebirth amid COVID-19.
In fact, Facebook reported a 70% increase in Live views from February to March in 2020 as creators and brands found new ways to embrace the platform during social distancing.
Enter: Instagram Live Shopping.
Thanks to a recent update, businesses and creators can add up to 30 products from their Facebook Shop or catalog to a collection before going Live, and then pin one item at a time during the broadcast.Source: @bagsnob
Each product is shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase.
This fully integrated experience is great for brands who want to drive sales and makes it easier for viewers to shop featured products.
In other words, it’s a win-win for both sides!
IGTV Shopping is another way to discover and purchase products directly within Instagram.
Previously, the only way to share product links was in the video description, which viewers had to tap to open.
But now, with the introduction of Instagram Shopping for IGTV, businesses and creators can tag shoppable products directly in their IGTV videos!
And it’s super easy to do – all you need to do is select which products you’d like to feature on your IGTV video and your audience can tap to browse in IGTV.
When a user wants to purchase something from your IGTV video, they can either complete the purchase directly on Instagram via Checkout, or they can visit your website, depending on your location and settings.
Instagram Checkout is a highly sought after feature that allows users to make a purchase without ever leaving the Instagram app.
With Instagram Checkout, customers can tap to view a product from a shopping post and then continue to the payment process, all within Instagram. All they have to do is enter their name, email, billing information, and shipping address the first time they check out.
It’s simple, streamlined, and probably the easiest way of converting Instagram followers into customers.
However, despite such obvious advantages, Instagram Checkout might not be for everyone. For some, Instagram’s transaction fees may be a cause for concern. According to their Business Help Center, the selling fee is 5% per shipment or a flat fee of $0.40 for shipments of $8.00 or less.
And Instagram Checkout can also mean brands lose out on valuable customer data (such as emails) as all communications are handled by Instagram rather than the brand directly. That being said, we expect a ton of brands to use Instagram Checkout once it rolls out more widely.
NOTE: Instagram Checkout is currently only available to eligible businesses in the US.
The link in your Instagram bio might not seem like the most exciting feature, but once optimized, it can be a seriously effective sales tool.
With Linkin.bio by Later, you can build a clickable, shoppable, mobile-optimized landing page that looks just like your Instagram feed.
And that’s not all. With Linkin.bio by Later’s Shopify integration, you can even tag products to your Linkin.bio posts.
Unlike Instagram’s native shopping tools, you’ll maintain control of all your customer’s data, and won’t have to pay any additional transaction fees.
In mid-2020, Instagram announced a new e-commerce destination that makes it easier to shop from brands and creators: Instagram Shop
Instagram Shop is essentially a more streamlined way for users to discover shoppable products – and it’s accessible directly from Instagram’s main navigation menu.Source: Instagram
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.
By clicking on a suggested product, users can see more images that feature the product, pricing information, other products from the same retailer, and how to purchase.
So how do you get started with this new, frictionless shopping experience on Instagram? Well, the good news is that if you’re already set up with Instagram Shopping, the process is really quite simple.
Head to Instagram’s business settings, tap “Shopping,” and select the Facebook Shop you want to use with your Instagram profile. Your products should be synced across to your new Instagram Shop!
Instagram’s Shopping from Creators is still in beta testing, but it’s already causing a stir when it comes to driving sales on social!Source: @kyliejenner
The feature allows creators and influencers to create their own Instagram shopping posts and tag products from the brands they partner with.
Of course, not just anyone can start tagging products from brands. In order to access the feature, you first need to switch to an Instagram Creator Account, and then you need to be approved by a brand to tag their products in your posts or stories.
On the brand side, Shopping from Creators is packed with benefits.
Not only does it make creator partner posts so much easier to shop, but it also allows you to track exactly how many product views and clicks the tagged post is attracting. This is a super useful insight into what drives engagement and (most importantly) what drives sales.
One of the most important steps of an Instagram marketing strategy is measuring the success of your campaigns and posts.
And while success is measured differently for every brand and business, it’s really important to check in with your Instagram analytics and see how well your post performed.
Here are three ways to keep track of your Instagram shopping posts’ performance and how you’re driving traffic to your website from Instagram:
Instagram Insights holds a ton of useful data. To find out how a specific post is performing, tap View Insights beneath an Instagram feed post or swipe up in self-view on a shoppable story.
From here, you can see engagement and tap through metrics. We suggest separating out your metrics for Instagram shoppable posts and Instagram Stories, so you can clearly identify what type of content works best on each channel.
To access the metrics behind your account’s performance overall, you can view and sort up to 12 months of posts by various metrics.
Here’s how to access your Instagram Insights:
Creating UTM trackable links is another way to stay on top of who visits your site from a link you share on Instagram – whether it’s through a swipe up link, IGTV link, or the link in your bio.
UTM is short for “Urchin Tracking Module.” To put it in easier terms, a UTM is the piece of unique code you’ll add to the end of your URL.
Paired with your Google Analytics account, UTM tagging can make sure Google Analytics is tracking your Instagram traffic with complete accuracy. It’s a great way to see precisely how many people are visiting your website by using your trackable link.
So when it comes to measuring the traffic coming to your website from Instagram, you can set up separate UTM trackable links.
While setting up UTMs does take a little bit of time, the payoff is worth it! You’ll have a much clearer picture of how your Instagram viewers are interacting with your content.
With Linkin.bio by Later, you can create a clickable, shoppable landing page that looks just like your Instagram feed and add it to your profile bio.
Plus, you can even track your revenue for that individual post if you integrate your Shopify account with Linkin.bio.
We’ve integrated Linkin.bio traffic analytics into Later’s overall post-performance analytics, allowing you to track clicks at a glance, get detailed data on clicks over time, and even rank your Instagram posts by how much traffic they drove.
Later’s Instagram Analytics include the insights you know and love from the Instagram app, plus additional data for calculating your best times to post, engagement rate, click-through rate, and more.
While Instagram is the most overt e-commerce channel on our list, when it comes to tools and features for e-commerce sales, Facebook reigns supreme.
In fact, Facebook’s tools and targeting options are lightyears ahead of any other channel. And this is partly because Facebook was the earliest social platform to build tools specifically for e-commerce.Source: Facebook
Despite changing social media tastes, Facebook is still the biggest platform with over 2.7 billion monthly active users. And over 90 million small businesses use Facebook and its related products.
The biggest reason brands love Facebook? Robust features!
You can use Messenger to provide customer support (and even make sales), create Facebook Groups to spur community engagement, run highly targeted ad campaigns, and sell products using Facebook’s many e-commerce features.
Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Facebook recently launched a new shopping tool called Facebook Shops (or Shops for short) that allows small businesses to build an online store and sell things directly across Facebook’s family of apps (including on Instagram, where it’s known as Instagram Shop).
Business owners can create a dedicated “shop” section on their Facebook Page and build a catalog of products and services that visitors can browse, save, share, and even purchase.
Now, you may be wondering: doesn’t Facebook already offer this through Page Shops?
And the answer is yes!
But the biggest difference between Page Shops and the newer Facebook Shops is that the latter comes with more features that are particularly well-suited to small businesses.Source: @lucyandyak
Facebook Shops are free, easy to create, fast, and (most importantly) they’re integrated across Facebook’s many apps. This means that once you set up your shop, it’s going to be available on your Facebook Page your Instagram profile, and accessible from stories and ads.
They’re also highly customizable. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand.
According to Zuckerberg, part of Facebook Shops’ customization will also come from AI and Facebook’s augmented reality tech.
For example, if you’re a clothing store that makes clothes for both men and women, you’ll personalize your storefront to show products that are most relevant to the visitor, like men’s jackets or women’s jeans.Source: @blume
Another big benefit is that you can more easily communicate with customers. Just like when you’re in a physical store and need to ask someone for help, in Facebook Shops you’ll be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries, and more.
Finally, Facebook Shops is also very simple to set up and manage! Businesses can use a number of third-party platforms (including Shopify, BigCommerce, and Woo) to manage their Shops, social ads, and more.
Ready to get set up your own Facebook Shops? Follow these instructions by Facebook to do it.
There are lots of reasons why retail and e-commerce brands should consider listing their inventory on Facebook Marketplace.
For example, when you list your inventory on Marketplace, you have the opportunity to tap into a growing community of online shoppers.Source: Facebook
In fact, according to internal data, today more than 1 in 3 people on Facebook in the US use Marketplace each month to buy and sell things – that’s over 60 million people!
Selling on Facebook Marketplace also gives you a dedicated storefront for your business.
You can list and manage inventory on a dedicated Shop Section on Pages where potential buyers can see inventory listings, ask questions about items, and, in some cases, buy products without having to leave your business page.
Selling on Marketplace also gives you access to a number of powerful and convenient order management tools that can help improve the shopping experience.
Here are a few of the tools that are available to merchants through Facebook Marketplace:
In order to start selling on Marketplace, you’ll need to connect with one of Facebook’s existing e-commerce inventory partners. Doing so will allow you to connect your existing inventory management tool, create listings, and manage your inventory from one centralized location.
Here are set-up instructions for each platform:
As people increasingly embrace shopping via chat, conversational commerce is igniting a global movement that is only set to grow.
Never heard of it?
Conversational commerce – or c-commerce – is when people and businesses connect through chat or voice assistance with the intent to drive the purchase of goods or services. On Facebook, this usually takes place with the help of “chatbots” or “Messenger bots.”Source: Facebook
Take Lego for example. Once you tap “Get Started,” their Messenger bot sends a series of questions (like where you’re from, how old you are, and what your budget is) along with buttons prompts to help narrow in on what you’re looking for.
Once you find something you like, the bot will immediately open a webpage with the product already in your shopping cart so you can quickly make a purchase.
In this way, their bot acts as a kind of digital sales associate, helping prospective customers find what they’re most interested in and make a purchase.
What’s great about this sales flow is that it takes place entirely in the Messenger app, which is a more casual means of communication than telephone or email.
Pinterest is often overlooked as an e-commerce channel, but when it’s used properly it can be one of the best platforms for driving sales.
As a visual discovery platform, Pinterest is perfect for reaching new, relevant audiences. Plus, the whole experience is fully clickable, making it easy to turn browsers into customers.Source: Pinterest
And that’s not all. Pinterest’s audience is seriously powerful.
According to a survey by Cowen and Company, 47% of social media users saw Pinterest as the platform for discovering and shopping for products – more than three times higher than those who cited Facebook or Instagram.
The Pinterest demographic also typically has a stronger purchasing power than most other social media platforms.
Over 70% of Pinterest’s 367M+ monthly active users are female, and, as the global income of women reaches trillions of dollars, women are expected to control almost 75% of discretionary spending by 2028.
In terms of location, the US still accounts for the lion’s share of users. In fact, over 34% of all US-based women aged 18-49 are active on the platform.
However, that isn’t to say that Pinterest is redundant if your target audience is based outside of the US, or even male-orientated. There are plenty of opportunities to make e-commerce sales on the platform across multiple demographics.
Below, we look at some of the best Pinterest tools for e-commerce:
The easiest way to make your Pinterest content shoppable is by using Product Pins.
Product Pins make shopping super easy, as they include real-time pricing, availability, and information on where to buy your product.Source: Pinterest
According to TechCrunch, the number of Product Pins has more than doubled in the last year, with traffic to retailer sites increasing by 230%.
And earlier in 2020, Pinterest made the shopping experience even easier by introducing a new Shop tab on search results.
Before this new feature, Product Pins could be found in search results, the home feed, and on boards.
But with this update, in-stock items can now be found under a new, dedicated Shop tab that appears in search results and on shoppable Pinterest boards.
To add Product Pins to your Pinterest for Business profile, you can follow the steps on Pinterest here.
Catalogs are the easiest way to turn all of the products listed on your e-commerce site into shoppable Pins.
It’s just like a traditional product brochure, but fully clickable and shareable!Source: @loafhome
To create a catalog for your business, you’ll need to meet some fairly complex technical requirements. Here’s what you’ll need:
But once you’re all set, you can upload your full catalog to Pinterest and easily turn your products into dynamic Product Pins, which means more shoppable Pins across Pinterest.
You’ll also get access to a new dashboard to organize your feed, so your products can be discovered and purchased by Pinners.
Your Pinterest catalog will automatically update as you update your site’s product feed – so your Pins will always reflect your latest product offering.
Businesses on Pinterest can now apply for a blue tick to represent that they are part of Pinterest’s Verified Merchant Program.
This program aims to help businesses increase their sales and help users discover and shop from Pinterest-vetted brands. Companies like Quay Australia, Ruggable and Coyuchi are just a few of the brands already on board.Source: @quayaustralia
To be eligible for the program, you must meet Pinterest’s community guidelines and have a digital footprint online – not just on Pinterest! They’re looking for businesses with high-quality products, customer service, and websites.
And while you don’t need to be a Verified Merchant to have your Product Pins appear in the Shop tab on the search results pages or Pinterest Boards, it does come with some added benefits:
If you’re interested in becoming a Verified Merchant on Pinterest, you can apply here.
We know you’re excited about the prospect of leveraging all of those shoppers on Pinterest. But before you take any action, check out these tips to help you get your brand ready for selling on Pinterest:
As we’ve already covered, Pinterest is primarily a search-led platform, which is great news for businesses looking to organically reach potential new customers.
So how do you optimize for search on Pinterest?
The trick is to add relevant keywords on Pinterest that are specific to your business and products but also aligned with what your target audience is searching for.Source: @latermedia
For example, if your business specializes in selling framed children’s artwork, you might want to include popular search terms such as: “Nursery Ideas” and “Nursery Decor.”
Video Pins can really stand out from the crowd in search results, making them a great strategy for capturing the attention of potential customers.
Plus, most searches on Pinterest return Video Pins at the top of the results page, which suggests the Pinterest algorithm may give video content a valuable extra boost.
And it’s not just the added visibility that makes Video Pins so great. They’re also a great opportunity to share to showcase your products or services in a more detailed and engaging way.
Video is a super effective format for delving into the details or showing your products in action, which can make all the difference when it comes to driving those all-important sales.
Pins, as the name suggests, are designed to be shared far and wide – which is awesome for brands looking to increase their reach and engage with new customers.
To tap into the true viral potential of Pinterest, it’s worth designing all of your Pins with shareability in mind.
But what makes a highly shareable Pin?
First and foremost, it’s important to consider what will resonate with your audience. This could be a handy infographic, styling tips, or even a branded quote.Source: @wholefoodsmarket
From a visual perspective, good design is key. Beautiful branding, eye-catching colors, and easy-to-read text overlays can help your Pins stand out from the crowd.
While much of the focus has been on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest over the last few years, TikTok is suddenly rising in the e-commerce marketplace.
But what makes TikTok special? Why is it getting so much recognition as a social commerce platform?
Well, beyond its unique culture, aesthetic, and algorithm (all of which have contributed to its massive popularity), it really comes down to TikTok’s audience.
TikTok’s audience is typically younger than other social platforms, which creates an opportunity for brands hoping to access (and drive revenue from) younger audiences – like millennials and the first wave of Gen Z.
Compare this with Facebook’s audience, which is more diverse age-wise but skews older, and you can see why so many brands are treating TikTok as one the best opportunities to reach young consumers.
TikTok is also poised to be the next “big” social commerce platform thanks to the rollout of several new shopping features.Source: @tissot_official
To date, TikTok has experimented with allowing users to add e-commerce links to their bios, launched “Shop Now” buttons for brands’ video ads, and introduced the “Hashtag Challenge Plus” e-commerce feature which allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored hashtag.
Perhaps most interesting, TikTok has also announced a new partnership with e-commerce giant, Shopify.
Below, we spotlight a few of these e-commerce features:
In mid-2019, TikTok launched a new feature called Hashtag Challenge Plus that allows users to shop for products associated with a sponsored Hashtag Challenge without ever leaving the app.
When a user taps the “Shop Now” link on a video, it takes them to a website where they can add items to their cart and check out online.
A great recent example is the #ShopBlack campaign that took place in the US and Canada from November 10-15. The hashtag campaign is designed to highlight Black-owned businesses and allow Black entrepreneurs to share their stories with the TikTok community.Source: TikTok
Through the #ShopBlack Hashtag Challenge, users could join the challenge and submit their own videos of them wearing or using their favorite products from Black-owned businesses.
The campaign was featured on TikTok's discover page and also included content from top creators, along with a custom Shop Black Branded Effect and music.
In October 2020, TikTok announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify, which is expected to make it easier for Shopify merchants to reach TikTok’s younger audience and drive e-commerce sales.
Merchants who get access to the program are able to connect their TikTok for Business account with their Shopify account and sell products on TikTok via in-feed shoppable video ads.Source: Shopify
The best part? Everything is managed via Shopify’s dashboard, including ad creation, targeting (gender, age, user behavior, and video category), optimization, and tracking.
Shopify merchants can also install or connect their “TikTok Pixel” – a tool that helps track conversions driven by their TikTok ad campaigns.
Like the Facebook Pixel, Shopify merchants will be able to use the TikTok Pixel to track user actions like a user browsing their page, adding items to their cart, placing an order, and completing the payment.
While businesses have been able to run targeted ad campaigns on TikTok for some time now, this new partnership represents TikTok’s biggest leap towards integrating e-commerce into its platform – and it’s only just the beginning!
Social shopping is poised to become one of the most important sales channels for e-commerce businesses. In a few years, many (if not most) of our online shopping experiences may start and end on social media!
And while the platforms we highlighted in this guide are currently your best option for driving sales on social media, we absolutely expect the field to grow with new platforms and channels joining the social commerce space.
But until then, we hope this guide provides some helpful tips in selecting the best channels and tools for your business.
Founded as the first-to-market Instagram scheduler in 2014, Later (formerly Latergramme) has grown from a simple Instagram tool to the #1 visual marketing platform for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Now with over 4 million users globally, Later is a member of the Instagram Partner Program and a Pinterest Marketing Partner.
We believe that social media has become a visual experience, and we’ve designed our platform to help you visually plan and schedule your photo and video content.
Later helps streamline your social media strategy so you can set yourself up for more sales and success. Our features focus on visual scheduling, media management, marketing and analytics. Here at Later, our goal is to simplify Instagram marketing and make it accessible for all businesses.