Instagram Announces Shopping Feature: What You Need to Know

Instagram Shopping Product Tags feature image

Instagram is going to jump into the ecommerce ring with its new shopping (a.k.a. product tagging) feature.

Today Instagram announced some big news for its retail business users. They’re testing a new feature that will allow retailers to tag products within their photos, just as you would tag another user in a photo. Only these new product tags are a bit different.

According to the official announcement these tags, when clicked, will allow for a more detailed view of the product you’ve clicked on. This product view will then also have a purchase link which redirects to the retailers own product page where users can then complete their purchase.

As you can see, the photo is just a normal Instagram image with a small white button in the bottom left corner that says “Tap to view products”. When you tap it, the product tags appear and you can then click on them to view details.

Although I, myself, am not a heavy Instagram user, I think this is very exciting news.

With Pinterest first jumping into the ecommerce scene with Buyable Pins and then Twitter following soon after with it’s own Buy Button, this might feel like another adoption of the social media purchasing trend. But I think this is much more.

You see, with both Pinterest Buyable Pins and Twitter Buy Buttons, it requires you to have a third party payment processor or platform in order to use them.

For Pinterests’s Buyable Pins you need to have one of the following commerce platforms:

  • BigCommerce
  • Demandware
  • Magento
  • Shopify

For Twitter’s Buy Button you are required to have any of the following marketplaces or platforms:

  • Open Sky
  • Fancy
  • Flightly
  • Gumroad
  • BigCommerce
  • Demandware
  • Shopify
  • Stripe
  • Deliveryagent

So if you are selling your products outside of those platforms or payment gateways, you are out of luck. Or you have to find a way to add one of them as an alternative way to distribute your products, increasing your technological overhead. Not fun.

But with Instagram’s new approach, they are doing something they’ve never made it easy to do before–send people to your website!

instagram product tags workflow

My biggest qualm with Instgram as a social media marketing platform is it’s difficulty in driving web traffic. (More on this in a future article.) This looks to rectify that problem.

As long as you have an ecommerce function powering your product sales for your website, you’ll be able to (eventually) sell them on Instagram. This will be a whole new level for social media ROI.

What This Could Mean for Brands

For brands that have not yet adopted Instagram as a legitimate marketing platform–it’s time to start experimenting. I recommend sitting down, today, and developing a strong social media strategy for it and brainstorming about what it could mean to have a retail presence there.

The early adopters get the worm. So don’t delay on taking a close look at this–this is a huge opportunity to stand out in your market!

There are so many possibilities with Instagram’s new product tagging. For example:

  • Home Decor Brands: Imagine every time you post a gorgeous photo of a room, each item in the photo can link directly to purchase the product.
  • Accessory Brands: Don’t just show how fashionable that new bracelet looks, link it to the product page!
  • Technology Brands: Showing a photo of your product at work can now link directly to where people can purchase it! (I’ll be trying this one out.)
  • Fitness Brands: Workout photos get a lot of traction–capitalize on the virality by adding product tags to the nutritional supplement powering those pumps!

Those are just a handful of examples off the top of my head. You get the idea though.

Some of the brands that are part of this initial testing are:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • BaubleBar
  • Chubbies
  • Coach
  • Hollister
  • J.Crew
  • JackThreads
  • kate spade new york
  • Levi’s Brand
  • Lulus
  • Macy’s
  • Michael Kors
  • MVMT Watches
  • Target
  • Tory Burch
  • Warby Parker
  • Shopbop

If I were an online retailer (which, I guess, I am), then I would be following some, if not all, of these brands to see what they’ll be doing with these new Instagram product tags.

Bonus reading: Instagram Sizes and Dimensions: Everything You Need to Know

What This Could Mean for Influencers

Now, the real interesting thing for me, as a social media enthusiast, is how this is going to affect influencers on the platform. Fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, celebrities, and digital personalities could have a huge interest in turning their Instagram presence into an affiliate marketing gold mine.

But will Instagram allow it? Do they really want stuff like this:

Instagram Shopping Product Tags influencer image

Okay, maybe it would be more like this:

Instagram Shopping Product Tags JackThreads

Nevertheless, this will be interesting to see if it evolves. If I were a fashion blogger though (clearly I’m not) I would definitely be paying close attention to this as well.

And if anyone understands the weight of this move for Instagram, it’s Sue B. Zimmerman. I asked her what she though and she said:

So many people wake up and the first thing they do is go to Instagram to get inspiration, motivation and education. I am excited that soon it will be a place where you can also shop for the things that you love without leaving the app. As long as Instagram delivers a seamless, positive shopping experience for consumers and businesses, I think it will be a huge win for businesses and consumers.

I have to agree with Sue here. As long as they deliver the seamless experience, this is going to be a huge win.

What This Could Mean for Twitter and Pinterest

oh no gif

Twitter and Pinterest should be all-hands-on-deck for this new announcement. Especially now that Instagram has a confirmed 500M Monthly Active Users.

If I were on their advisory team, I’d be making sure that all my engineers in product development were focusing on bringing retailers this same level of website commerce integration.

Their current limitations of having to go through third-party commerce platforms is holding them back from attracting more adopters. Hopefully Instagram’s announcement is the kick in the pants they needed.

Or maybe they’ve already got this type of integration being worked on but haven’t announced it yet? Who knows. All I know is, they need to deliver on it soon.

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts on Instagram’s Product Tags announcement? Is it interesting to you? Will you use it? Or does it feel like another step towards Instagram becoming less cool and more spammy?

Let me know in the comments below!