Instagram Shopping – Has Instagram has made itself indispensable to Retailers ?

So what is all this Instagram Shopping all about?

One of the most exciting bits of news over the last few weeks has been the launch of shopping facilities on Instagram. Finally, the platform that brands have come to love the most over the last few years starts to give us the facilities retailers need to rally supercharge their Instagram presence. Brands are being required to engage ever more deeply with their customers, and Instagram is a great tool to help with this.

So what are the facilities?

Let’s first discuss what the functionality is not – Instagram is not actually transacting sales – just acting as an affiliate. There is no need to synchronise inventory levels or worry about how to get orders from Instagram into your Cart / order management system.

What the Functionality gives you is a great “Get the look tool” – You can set up great product compositions and then tag all the products to show exactly what products are on display – and then link them direct to the product page on your site.

You can also go one step further – you can pull in your Instagram feed onto your site and use it to display a grid of your Instagram feed – with all the Instagram features.

So how do you set this up.

Instagram ShopThis should be simple – but as always it is not quite as simple as it ought to be.

1.      Make sure you have an Instagram for Business account – First of all you need to ensure that you have an Instagram Business account – it is easy to switch it across.

2.      Get your products into Facebook – You need to have a Facebook shop – and to do this you need to get your products into Facebook. This in itself opens up a whole new can of worms – as the feed has to be in the correct format etc…etc…! For most clients we have achieved this with a feed manager – and the one we really like right now is a platform called Channible.

3.      Link the accounts. This can be quite complicated – especially if you have multiple managers of your Facebook page. There are reasonably clear instructions here that will help, but the god’s honest truth is that we have, in all cases, had to do a fit of fiddling under the hood to achieve the link.

4.      Feature and Tag images. This is where the fun start – as it is pretty simple. The interface allows up to 5 products to be tagged per single-image post or 20 products per multi-image post.

  • Tap the products in the image that you want to tag
  • Type in the names of the products you want to tag
  • Tap Done
  • Tap Share

So how important is this really?

Given the difficulty that retailers have had in mixing product catalogues with engaging content this functionality looks to be something approaching a killer app for retailers. It will certainly change the dominant design of websites as they are now and help push eCommerce customer experiences towards more fluidity. Given the relative ease with which this can be achieved, any retailer that ignores Instagram now had better have a damn good reason for doing so!

But I know what you really want to know – What about the data? Is there really any evidence to suggest that this tool enhances traffic generation or site conversion? Sorry not to have an answer to that right now – but it’s too early to tell yet. There is some optimisation to do – and we need to see what happens when the novelty effect wears off. I’ll keep you Posted – promise!

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