Instagram is rolling out the next stage of its on-platform shopping experience with the addition of a new 'Shop' section in Explore that will showcase a range of buyable items within a single feed.
As explained by Instagram:
"Instagram Shop is an in-app shopping destination where people can discover products and brands they love from across Instagram. Today, we have started public testing of Instagram Shop in the US and will expand globally in the coming weeks."
The new Shop listings will highlight personalized product recommendations for each user, based on the accounts they follow and the businesses that are using Instagram's product listings. Parent company Facebook announced Instagram's coming Shop options back in May, which will eventually see a significant increase in buyable product listings in the app. This new Explore section is another element in that gradual evolution.
That could make it worth all retailers considering their Instagram shop options. If you're looking to get your products featured within this new listing, approved businesses can tag products in their Instagram posts, which will then help them reach interested users via Instagram's recommendations algorithm (here's an overview of Facebook's approval and listing process for products).
And this is just the beginning - in addition to the new shop section in Explore, Instagram also notes that:
"Later this year, we’re adding a new Shop tab in the navigation bar, so you can get to Instagram Shop in just one tap."
Instagram's already testing the tab with a small group of users, and soon, it will further emphasize its on-platform shopping options - while Instagram's also testing shopping tags within post captions, which will provide even more ways to highlight buyable items.
The next stage, then, is facilitating payment - which is also coming soon:
"We’re rolling out Facebook Pay in the coming weeks in the US. Facebook Pay will provide a seamless, secure way to shop and make donations to causes you care about across our apps. It features an extra layer of security with the ability to add a unique PIN or device biometrics, such as Touch or Face ID. We also provide Purchase Protection on eligible products that you buy using checkout."
These updates will have a major impact on user behavior, and buying processes - and with more users looking to shop online amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, the arrival of these new options could be an even more significant event, ushering in a whole new wave of habitual process, and sparking a significant re-think in approach for Instagram marketers.
It could, feasibly, make Instagram the online shopping destination. The platform already has the audience, the aspirational user base, people already come to Instagram to stay connected with the latest trends. These new options will facilitate the logical expansion of that, which will make it a much bigger consideration for retail businesses.
That could present a major opportunity.
You can read more about Instagram's new shopping options here.