Instagram shopping in a standalone app?
That, reportedly, is what the Facebook-owned company is developing, which would enable it to maximize the potential of shopping on the visual platform, without risking the current Instagram user-experience in a significant way.
According to The Verge:
“The app - which may be called IG Shopping - would let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow, and purchase them directly within the app.”
The direct connection between Instagram’s main app and its proposed shopping channel is essential – as noted here, based on the information provided, Instagram Shopping would highlight items from businesses you already follow on IG, while you would also expect that brands on Instagram would be given additional options to link to their Instagram Shopping channels from their Instagram posts.
You can currently only link to your own website via your Instagram profile (and in Stories for eligible brands). For Instagram Shopping to work, you’d expect that it would look to open up a lot more cross-channel support - which could prove a significant lure for brands already working to build an Instagram following.
And an increasing number of brands are doing exactly that – with the platform now up to a billion monthly active users, there are now also more than 25 million active Instagram business profiles, and growing every day. The rapid rise of the platform has brands clamoring to utilize Stories and connect with usage trends, and the addition of more direct conversion options – which can more clearly attribute on-platform efforts to bottom line results – will no doubt be welcomed.
Instagram has been moving towards eCommerce for some time – they’ve been gradually rolling out their Shopping Tags to more brands (both within the main feed and Stories), while they’ve also been developing tools to help businesses on Shopify better utilize the platform.
Interestingly, The Verge also notes that a standalone IG Shopping app could actually become a rival for Shopify:
“Over time, Facebook could introduce more tools for merchants who are building their businesses on Instagram, directly challenging e-commerce platforms like Shopify, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking. Most online businesses need an Instagram account already, the thinking goes; many of them would surely use paid business tools if they became available.”
That opens up a lot of new potential for both Facebook and Instagram. It’s yet to be seen whether splitting the Instagram experience into separate elements is an effective strategy (Instagram has reportedly been testing a standalone app for DMs, while its recently launched app for IGTV is not performing well in isolation), but it would enable the platform to create a wholly aligned shopping experience, without the concerns of annoying its userbase with blatant promotions, and over-stuffing the main app.
That could also reflect Facebook’s learnings from Messenger. Facebook has been pushing to monetize Messenger - and its 1.3 billion users – by adding in new functionality, including bots and shopping tools to facilitate more business behavior. But that push hasn’t seen Messenger become the all-purpose tool that Facebook had envisioned, and earlier this year, former Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus admitted that the app had become ‘too cluttered’ and needed to be pared back.
Maybe that’s why Instagram’s going the separate app route – which seems like more work, it’ll take more effort to get people opening a completely different app. But maybe, by providing direct links, and promoting them in the main app, it could facilitate all new user behaviors. The precedent set by IGTV thus far doesn’t seem overly positive, but it’s still early days in the rollout.
There’s not a lot to go on at this stage – we don’t have any visuals or any dates for a possible rollout. But it’s definitely an interesting consideration. We’ll keep you updated on any progress.