Day 1 of Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Conference just passed, and in an elaborate attempt to suppress its 2018 scandals, many new features for Facebook and Instagram were announced. One major announcement was Instagram’s new shopping feature, as an extension of its already existing in-app shopping features. Instagram’s current checkout feature allows businesses to tag their products and link them to a webpage where consumers can buy their products. Similar to this, their new feature gives the same opportunity to influencers, where they can link the items they’re wearing to a webpage, where their followers can buy the same products.
Instagram changed the online shopping game this year when they implemented in app purchases to be made on shopping links. Through this, businesses could tag their products as links, which customers could buy within a few minutes. They also implemented a shopping tab on the explore page which is filled with shoppable posts from brands that Instagram thinks you may be interested in. Over 130 million people tap on these tags each month, proving that it is a convenient feature for many people.
The rise of online shopping and specifically Amazon, revolutionized the way we shop, however it appears that Instagram is going to be the real downfall of traditional stores and shopping malls. With over 1 billion people actively using Instagram every month, it is the 2nd most used social media platform after Facebook, which has over 2.38 billion monthly users. To be debuted for testing on May 9, Instagram’s new feature is going to be available for use to a small group of 55 creators with large followings including the Kim Kardashian West, Gigi Hadid, and Huda Kattan, as well as 23 companies such as Vogue, GQ and Hypebeast. Testing a small group of accounts who are influential to millions, will give many the opportunity to use this feature, allowing Instagram to analyse if it is worth implementing permanently.
Advantages of In App Shopping Features
On face value, this feature seems like a great opportunity for people to have access to the latest and greatest items that people like Kim K are using and wearing. It also works great if you see something you have needed or wanted for a while but haven’t been able to find it through research. Particularly for those of us who are fashionably inept, or simply just too lazy to curate different outfits, having the option to buy a full outfit of a fashion blogger is especially exciting. Who wouldn’t want the wardrobe of Chiara Ferragni with literally no effort?
An updated wardrobe is only 1% of the benefits of this feature. The convenience of this feature means that people who are time poor and can’t afford to spend hours scrolling through pages and pages of products can buy this product in less than a minute. Because of the influence these creators have, many people feel that they can trust that the product must be good if someone with 20 million followers is using it.
For brands, this shopping feature is going to have a major impact on the increase in sales. Although influencers won’t get a cut from the sales on their posts, they can organize sponsorships and brand deals with that company if they wish to monetize their posts. Many brands will see a dramatic profit increase if their products are linked without sponsoring the influencer, as it is free advertising. Both the influencers and brands will have access to detailed metrics and analytics, which will allow them to understand how many sales they’re making from Instagram posts.
For smaller brands, the in-app shopping feature gives them an advantage over big companies such as Amazon, as they seek to create a more personalized shopping experience for their followers. Instagram can gather information from the users, which allows it to tailor sponsored content, and their explore pages, to posts that they will be interested in.
Disadvantages of In App Shopping Features
One of the major disadvantages for businesses using this feature is that many people prefer to do their online shopping on a larger screen such as a laptop, and thus the feature may not work for those who only use Instagram on their phone. Many people are very aware of the consumerist nature of today’s digital society, and thus may purposely avoid using the in-app shopping feature to prevent making impulse purchases. Furthermore, seeing a product for the first time on Instagram may not encourage an individual to make a purchase as many people prefer to research a product and compare brands before they buy it, particularly if it is an expensive product.
With the recent saturation of influencer marketing, millennials are becoming less trustworthy of creators, and the products they recommend due to the influx of sponsored posts. Due to the skepticism surrounding paid partnerships on Instagram, users may be less inclined to make a purchase through a sponsored Instagram post. Shopping on Instagram is still a new concept, and thus it is not a priority of a user who is there to keep up to date with their family and friends. Many people have not yet made the connection that they can make purchases on Instagram and thus it is not playing in their minds.
Instagram’s new feature could be extremely beneficial to businesses and influencers with large followings who are trying to sell a product online. With a sprinkle of self-control, the app offers an extremely convenient feature particularly for those who are time-poor for making purchases. Whilst it may fuel many excessive spending habits, the new feature will give businesses the advantage of appealing to a specific audience, rather than engaging in mass marketing.