Instagram has long been a haven for showing off products. Whether it's the glamorous new bag from Kate Spade or the high-horsepower new car from Chevy, fans have spent 6 years double tapping on products without a clear path to purchase.
Last week, Instagram announced a new shoppable tags feature, a way for brands to turn their Instagram feeds into retail space.
Here's how it works.
What Is Shoppable Instagram?
Starting in early November, Instagram is allowing a select number of brands, including Kate Spade, JackThreads, and Warbly Parker, to alpha test the shoppable tags product. You'll know a shoppable Instagram image when you see a tag saying "Tap to view products":
When you tap on that prompt, information bubbles will appear over the products for sale in the image:
From there, you can click through on the images to see product shots:
And if you see something you just have to have, you can click through and purchase it from the site, right then and there:
What Shoppable Instagram is Replacing
Before this announcement, brands who wanted shoppable Instagram functionality had to use confusing tools that turned likes and comments into mobile shopping carts. If they didn't use a tool, many brands would try to utilize their description and bio link to drive people to purchase, but without actual links in descriptions on Instagram, the bio links would often become stale, change, and that potential sale could be lost.
Shoppable tags provide Instagram users with the luxury of being able to easily act on that 'have-to-have-it-now' impulse that was previously reserved for other platforms, like Pinterest.
Instagram the Scrollable Catalog... and Magazine?
The user experience of Instagram is about to change significantly, no longer is Instagram just a place you go to peruse the most recent images from your favorite people and brands. The platform is now a scrollable, inspiring catalog.
According to JackThread's CMO, Ryan McIntyre, "Our community uses Instagram as an aspirational discovery platform and they're looking to us for inspiration." The inspiration JackThread's users find from their feed is similar to the inspiration many people find while flipping through a catalog - except now all they have to do to purchase is click.
If organic shoppable grams make it out of alpha and become available for everyone to use, we'll likely see a lot more e-commerce brands take to Instagram to market and sell their products. We may also see more posts per day from e-commerce brands as they try to squeeze more marketing value from the platform, resulting in an increased demand for Instagram scheduling tools.
But why stop at making Instagram into a scrollable catalog when it could become a scrollable magazine, too? Shoppable tags could set a new precedent for organic links in posts - if brands can link to products, who's to say we won't soon be able to link to articles? When scheduling Instagram posts using, I currently create an easy-to-remember Bitly link to include in the description. Imagine if instead of having to create a Bitly link all I had to do is tag the blog post in a photo. That's music to my little marketing ears.
What do you think about the shoppable Instagram announcement? Let us know in the comments.