Ten years ago, the emerging social media platform Instagram was celebrating reaching one million accounts. Fast forward to 2021, and Instagram now has more than one billion active users, all engaged in the creation and sharing of more than 80 million photo and video updates every day.
What’s kept this social media giant on a continuous growth trend over the past ten years? Instagram’s continued success is due largely to the platform’s constant focus on new developments that make sense for their users. These advancements, like the popular Stories feature and Instagram Live, have kept users hooked from day one.
But maybe the most interesting of all developments is Instagram’s transition from a space to share photographic content to a fully-fledged e-commerce platform with Instagram Shopping.
Launched in 2019, Instagram Shop tool is a bunch of features that opens a world of opportunities for businesses to promote their products and build brand awareness. This includes features that allow your followers to shop from your stories, shop from your guides, or even shop from a live broadcast.
Instagram’s users spend an average of 53 minutes a day browsing the platform. More than 80 percent of users are now following a business account, 62 percent say they are more interested in a brand after seeing it in an Instagram story and 200 million users visit at least one business account every day. That’s good news for ecommerce shops. With this in mind, there is no better time than now for your business to start selling on Instagram.
What is Instagram Shopping?
Put simply, Instagram Shopping is a set of features that allows businesses to sell products and users to shop on its platform. The range of features offers businesses unique opportunities to showcase their products and brand, while at the same time leaving influencers and creators with countless methods to promote these products.
Two years in, the tool has had great success with now more than 130 million users tapping on Instagram Shopping posts every month. Currently the tool is made up of seven features which, in typical Instagram fashion, are continually advancing alongside its userbase.
One of the best options is the check-out feature, which allows users to buy products directly on the app from start to finish without leaving Instagram. Zara, Nike, and plenty of other big-name brands have been using this feature.
However, it’s not just big names that are reaping its benefits. Smaller businesses are jumping on board and taking advantage of the 83 percent of users who use the platform to discover new products and services.
How Does Instagram Shopping Work? Get Started in 6 Steps
The real benefit of Instagram Shop is that it was not designed just for big and established businesses – it can be used by any eligible account. As a result, Instagram has given business owners, no matter how big or small, a platform to sell products, build brand awareness and establish meaningful relationships with their customers all in one place.
So, are you ready to delve into the world of Instagram Shopping and open a new sales channel? Here’s how to set up Instagram Shopping.
Step One: Check That Your Business is Eligible
To be eligible for the Instagram Shop tool, you must meet the following requirements:
- Your business must function in an approved market.
- Your business must sell goods in compliance with Instagram’s commerce policies.
- You must have an Instagram business account.
Step Two: Convert to an Instagram Business Account
If you haven’t already, it’s time to switch to an Instagram business account. This will allow you to continue the registration process for Instagram Shopping. Plus, it’ll give you access to useful analytics and business features.
Step Three: Connect Your Instagram Account to a Facebook Page
Following this, you must then connect your business account to a Facebook page. You can find more information on how to do this here.
Step Four: Upload a Product Catalog
Once you’ve completed the three steps above, you’re ready to start your Instagram Shop catalog. To start building this, head to commerce manager and begin uploading your product photos and information. This can be done individually or by uploading a catalog spreadsheet to speed up the process.
Step Five: Submit Your Account for Review
The next step is to submit your account for review, which you can find out how to do here. Bear in mind account reviews typically take a few days to get approved, and you may need to provide more business information.
Step Six: Turn on Shopping and Get Started
Once you’ve been approved and turned on Instagram shopping, it’s time to start exploring Instagram’s many shopping features.
What Are Instagram’s Seven Shop Features?
As briefly mentioned above, Instagram checkout allows users to tap on a product from a shoppable post and go through the complete online buying process without leaving the app. The feature was first launched in 2019 and only available by BETA trial to 26 brands, but due to rapid success has begun to be rolled out globally.
One benefit of Instagram checkout is the seamless experience it creates for buyers, which not only keeps them happy but is a quick way to drive up conversion rates.
Instagram Feed Shopping
This feature interweaves a generic Instagram post with online shopping by allowing businesses to place product tags on the post, which then takes users to a buy option. A shoppable post allows up to five shopping tags as well as a carousel option and is one of the more popular options.
Instagram Live Shopping
Instagram Live shopping simply allows businesses to promote their products through a live broadcast. Before casting, the feature accepts up to 30 product tags per stream that viewers can see during the broadcast. If a host chooses to run through the products during the broadcast, the feature also offers an option to pin the referenced product on screen – making it the perfect tool for product demo videos.
Instagram Stories Shopping
Similar to feed shopping, Instagram Stories shopping gives businesses an option to create a shopping sticker in their stories. While viewing stories, users can then tap on the sticker and can choose to be taken to the product for purchase. This feature is another subtle way to promote products and is being used far and wide from accounts as small as 5,000 followers to millions.
Instagram Guides Shopping
Guides shopping is the perfect shopping feature for businesses to showcase their top-selling products or new collections. Using items listed in your Instagram Shop, you can then create a shopping guide of your choice that users can then browse. The great benefit of this feature is that it can be used by creators, making it an ideal tool for influencers that you work with to promote and feature your products.
Reels and IGTV Shopping
The Reels and IGTV shopping tools are features that again seamlessly interweave video and online shopping. The feature works similarly to live shopping, where users can add product tags to their reels and IGTV posts, providing a popup for viewers to see what products have been featured in that specific post.
(Source: Focus Bikes)
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Instagram Shopping From Creators
Shopping from creators gives influencers and creators the ability to tag your products in their posts, reels, and live streams. The feature functions just like feed shopping but is promoted on a post created by the promoter. Their followers can then complete the purchase from their post using Instagram checkout.
How Can You Increase Your Sales Using the Instagram Shop Tool?
Instagram Shop offers a range of features and options so businesses of any size can benefit. Its shoppable tags allow for products to be easily discovered and shared, consumers can buy more quickly than ever before, and the tool offers several methods for your brand to engage in influencer marketing.
Now that you know everything there is to know about Instagram Shopping, here are our tips for how you can use Instagram Shop to increase your sales.
Tip #1 – Demonstrate Your Product In Action
Many of the shop features are a perfect fit to demonstrate your products in action. From streaming a product demo using Instagram live shopping to sharing an influencers’ reel that’s featured your product, there are many ways for you to show your customers how effective and useful your product is.
Many called them ‘dad sandals’ back in the 90s, but today Teva’s shoes are being embraced by adventurers of all ages thanks to the company’s clever Instagram strategy.
Teva regularly shares reels and photos that its customers share online, which showcase how their fans from all around the world use their shoes outdoors. By doing this, Teva spread the message that their sandals are for everyone and not just ‘dads,’ resulting in a boom in sales over the past few years.
Tip #2 – Use High-Quality Images
While Instagram is a social media giant today, its visual roots continue to remain its sole focus. Therefore, it is vital that you post high-quality photos and videos that will capture users’ attention while encouraging them to buy. A sure-fire way to achieve this is by developing and sticking to a signature look.
(Source: Design Within Reach)
Furniture retailer Design Within Reach is a small business that uses shoppable posts to full effect by ensuring it uses engaging and quality imagery while remaining consistent with its style. Almost every photo has a product tag, enticing users to buy while leaving them to imagine what that piece of furniture may look like in their home.
Tip #3 – Share User Generated Content
Finding and sharing quality images can be time-consuming, especially if you have a limited budget. A great way to minimize your work is to share some of your followers’ content. Often users will tag your brand or use relevant hashtags if sharing a photo featuring your brand or product. Your job is then to sift out these bloggers and re-share their content, adding in product tags along the way.
(Source: Pret A Manger)
Take Pret A Manger, for example, who regularly shares posts of their customers drinking or eating their products. Not only does it save them time, but it shows they are actively engaged with their followers, better-establishing customer relationships to improve sales.
Tip #4 – Hashtags Are Still Important
Eleven years later, hashtags are still as important as ever on Instagram and will always intensify the visibility and reach of your content. By using relevant and popular hashtags in shoppable posts, you increase your odds of landing on the Instagram explore tab, which for small businesses can be incredibly beneficial when launching new products or promoting best sellers.
Tip #5 – Get Started With Influencer Marketing
Today, almost 50 percent of buyers rely on Influencer recommendations before purchasing a product, proving their growing importance to the entirety of consumer shopping. Cleverly, several of Instagram’s shopping features make it easy to get an influencer involved with your brand.
Meat-box subscription ButcherBox is a brand that is using Influencer marketing with great results by partnering with food and health-based influencers to market their service. The company uses several techniques, such as sharing customer unboxing videos and photos of the meals influencers have posted that use their meat.
As a result of carefully selecting targeted Influencers whose followers match their own customer base, ButcherBox has broadened their brand awareness and increased sales rapidly.
Tip #6 – Track Your Content Performance
Take advantage of Instagram Insights to better understand which of your shoppable posts are performing well and which ones are not. By reviewing these insights, you can then adjust your strategy to better suit what your audience is enjoying and buying.
Instagram Insights will also show you information to consider before adding a shoppable post that will help it gain traction, such as age range, gender, and location of your audience.
So there you have it! A few ways that you can get started with this tool. No matter what type of content you share, you’ll be able to take advantage of the shop features and start stepping up your conversions on this platform. And if you team up with influencers, even better. You can have them do all of the work for you! Whether you decide to implement Instagram Feed Shopping, or Instagram Checkout, or start incorporating shopping features into your live broadcasts, you’re sure to find something that’s a good fit for your brand and audience. The best approach is something that will work naturally with the type of content that you regularly share and the things that tend to get the best response. Then test it out, try different variations, and see for yourself what works for you and your audience.
The Next Steps
There’s no better time than now to jump on board and transition your ecommerce store onto Instagram’s platform.
If your business already uses Instagram, you already know what works well for you. Now the trick is to add in Instagram Shop features alongside your regular content to start driving sales.
If your company is completely new to Instagram, now is a great time to consider joining. Look at what your competitors are doing on Instagram, evaluate their strategies to find out what works well for them, and then reshape it for you. The next step is to implement your own strategy and join in.
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