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Instagram Shop Now buttons create a new marketplace for retailers and brands

By Paul Skeldon March 27, 2018 - 9:31 am

Photo-led social media site Instagram is setting itself up as the go-to channel for shopping – especially among the young ‘n’ mobile end of the market – and retailers and brands should be embracing it.

The social site rolled out its Shop Now feature to business accounts in the UK, as well as Germany France, Italy Brazil, Canada, Spain and Australia last week. The feature now allows users to tap tags and see prices, then link through to the retailer’s website, with the help of a brand new “Shop Now” button. Previously, users would have been directed to a ‘Link in bio’ – disrupting the user journey.

The move comes after a successful trial in the UK with Marks and Spencer, which has 760,000 followers on the site and sees huge potential in allowing shoppers to buy from what they see there.

Already, M&S has been joined by Top Shop, New Look, Screwfix, Miss Selfridge and River Island in offering the Shop Now buttons and leading eCommerce platform provider Shopify has announced this week its support for Instagram Shop Now for its retail and brand customers.

Yet, despite the roll-out becoming available to those signed up as Instagram business account users and with product catalogues on March 20th, data compiled by Cybertill shows little uptake in this progressive new addition to the image-led social media platform.

None of the top 5 retailers in the UK including ASOS, ASDA, Tesco, Argos, Next have yet enabled the feature.

Of the retailers that don’t have the Instagram Shopping feature enabled, 7% encourage the consumer to go in-store, 19% encourage consumers to click the link in the retailer’s Instagram bio, 19% encourage the consumer to search for product code on the website, the rest don’t actively promote ‘buy’ calls to action from Instagram.

“Retailers shouldn’t be precious about selling channels. Smart retailers move quickly to offer consumers what they want, when they want it. Experiential retailing is essential to winning over hearts and minds of consumers. Instagram is about as experiential as e-commerce can get. Instagram has always been a very good platform for selling, without the tools to do so effectively. That’s all changed now and retailers need to get with the program, or else be left behind.”

Ian Tomlinson, CEO of Cybertill

A move to Instagram – while almost inevitable for all major retailers and brands – makes a great deal of sense and is yet another example of having to go where the shoppers are. It is inescapable that consumers are now spreading their shopping research and purchase over many channels and the move to Instagram is akin to the move to marketplaces. In fact, the widening of the net for the Instagram Shop Now buttons effectively makes Instagram a quasi-marketplace.

“Firstly, it is simply a reaction to consumers’ ever-changing shopping traits which continue to shift to mobile and online. And for brands it’s an opportunity to secure a larger slice of the competitive retail market. Mobile sales are now a significant source of growth and this will enable retailers to provide tailored deals directly to the shopper. It will also naturally influence the market during retail peaks, as consumers use social media to search for the latest trends and products.”

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation, Salmon

From Instagram’s point of view the move is a canny one. Some 85% of millennials reach for their smartphones first when making purchases via the internet, and with 500 million people using Instagram each day, the market potential for retailers to capitalise on this move is huge. By working with Instagram, retailers will be able to reach the largest possible audience, who can purchase an item in a matter of seconds.

“This is great news for anyone trying to reach the market effectively through a channel they are already familiar with and is arguably something that is long overdue. Instagram is already used to great effect by retailers and Brands looking to communicate with and engage with consumers, but the challenge is that it can be difficult to tempt Instagram’s users off the site and therefore convert ‘likes’ into sales. The introduction of ‘shoppable’ tags solves this issue by removing friction from transactions. This could provide an important tool in the kit-bag of retailers looking to extend market reach, build awareness in the market and simplify conversion for consumers who are face so much choice online.”

Andy Burton, CEO, Tryzens

However, there are caveats. When looking to an Instagramable future, retailers need to consider the potential strain on their marketing stack that a large volume of Instagram visits and purchases can have. As more celebrities and influencers start featuring products, a curated Instagram feed is set to become an essential ‘converting’ marketing channel. In the fast-paced world of social media, where a posts’ lifespan can only be a few hours long, being agile enough to monetise on the value of a post is key.

“There is logical excitement around Instagram’s ‘shoppable’ content and I am sure we will see further advances in the market as whole as additional ways to connect user and brand generated content with an intuitive, immersive and efficient shopping experience come to the fore.  Making the social commerce experience as easy and seamless as possible is critical to increasing conversions. However, retailers need to ensure that their support systems and back end operations are fit for the social media revolution – by which I mean being able to respond to enquiries in near real time, engage with consumers in the right tone of voice, and, able ensure orders are fulfilled effectively requiring a single view of customer, single view of stock and single view of inventory to be truly agile.”

Andy Burton, CEO, Tryzens

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