Shoppable Brings Instagram a Step Closer to E-Commerce

Published by
Melissa Megginson

Instagram has long been a haven for showing off products. Whether it’s the glamorous new bag from Kate Spade or the high-horsepower new car from Chevy, fans have spent 6 years double tapping on products without a clear path to purchase… until now. Instagram just announced Shoppable Instagram, a way for brands to turn their feeds into retail space.

What Is Shoppable Instagram?

Starting in early November, Instagram is allowing a select number of brands, including Kate Spade, JackThreads, and Warbly Parker, to alpha test the shoppable Instagram product. You will know a shoppable Instagram image when you see a tag saying “Tap to view products”:

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Similar to when someone is tagged in an Instagram photo, bubbles will appear over the products for sale in the image:

From there, you can click through on the images to see product shots:

If you see something you just have to have, you can click through and purchase it from the site right then and there:

What Shoppable Instagram is Replacing

Before this announcement, brands who wanted shoppable Instagram functionality had to use confusing tools that turned likes and comments into mobile shopping carts. If they didn’t use a tool, many brands would try to utilize their description and bio link to drive people to purchase. However, without actual links in descriptions on Instagram, often the bio links would become stale, change, and that potential sale could be lost. Shoppable posts provide Instagram users with the built-in luxury of being able to easily act on that have-to-have-it-now impulse that was previously reserved for other platforms, like Pinterest.

Instagram the Scrollable Catalog… and Magazine?

The user experience of Instagram is about to change significantly. No longer is Instagram just a place you go to peruse the most recent images from your favorite people and brands, it’s now a scrollable, inspiring catalog.  According to JackThread’s CMO, Ryan McIntyre, “Our community uses Instagram as an aspirational discovery platform and they’re looking to us for inspiration.” The inspiration JackThread’s users find from their feed is similar to the inspiration many people find while flipping through a catalog. Except now all they have to do to purchase is click.

If organic shoppable grams make it out of alpha and become available for everyone to use we will likely see a lot more e-commerce brands take to Instagram to market and sell their products.  We may also see more posts per day from e-commerce brands as they try to squeeze more marketing value from the platform, resulting in an increased demand for Instagram scheduling tools like Tailwind for Instagram.

Could Instagram's shoppable images set a precedent for organic links in posts?Click to Tweet

But why stop at making Instagram into a scrollable catalog when it could become a scrollable magazine, too? This new feature could be set a precedent for organic links in posts. If brands can link to products, who’s to say we won’t soon be able to link to articles? When scheduling Instagram posts using Tailwind for Instagram (signup for the Beta) I currently create an easy-to-remember Bitly link to include in the description. Imagine if instead of having to create a Bitly link all I had to do is tag the blog post in a photo. That’s music to my little marketing ears…   

What do you think about the shoppable Instagram announcement? Let us know in the comments!


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Melissa Megginson

Melissa Megginson is resident Community Manager and Cat Lady at Tailwind, the leading Pinterest & Instagram tool for brands. Melissa specializes in affiliate marketing, public speaking, and making our members look good. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelMegg.

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Published by
Melissa Megginson

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