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!

Dustin W. Stout Avatar

11 responses to “Instagram Announces Shopping Feature: What You Need to Know”

  1. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Great to see you around the internets, Cynthia! I hope you and the family are doing well!

    And yes, it’s definitely a fascinating time we live in where we can get anything we want, compare several different prices, all within seconds from the palm of our hand.

  2. Cynthia Hernandez Avatar
    Cynthia Hernandez

    Hey Dustin! Long time no see my friend. Just read your blog and I think it’s pretty interesting. I really liked your Instagram post with the Walmart sunglasses! Right now as it is I follow vintage Instagrams Pyrex Instagrams I purchase stuff from people already on Instagram. How much more better would it be to be able to shop brand-name fashion as well? I like shopping online much more than I like going out and shopping. Shopping online gives me a chance to find the best price on things I don’t like going into the stores and scanning the tags to find which store has it for less and then run over to the other store. It’s just a waste of time and gas. I think this is pretty cool I’m kind of excited. Thanks for the insight Dustin

  3. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    You’re welcome Angela! I definitely don’t mind either. Fashion brands, I think, are especially poised to reap the benefits of this new feature.

  4. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    I don’t think it will. My expectation is that the people who follow brands won’t mind and the people who don’t follow brands won’t notice.

  5. Angela Avatar

    As a retail business owner i think this is great news! It sure would make it easier to drive traffic to your store! It may open the gates for more spam and i wonder what instagram users will think? I know i wouldn’t mind clicking within an image to find out more about a product! Especially fashion! Thanks for the great read.

  6. Robert Nissenbaum Avatar

    I’m wondering if ity will start turning too many images into ads, effectively hurting some of the visual impact and storytelling aspect.

  7. Troy Mclaughlin Avatar
    Troy Mclaughlin

    That’s why your the smart blog guy!!

  8. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Yea, but the trouble you run into is the payment processing. If someone already has payment processing on their site, they’re not going to want to hook up yet another gateway/system/configuration (hence why Twitter and Pinterest’s options are so limited).

  9. Troy Mclaughlin Avatar
    Troy Mclaughlin

    Dustin wouldn’t you think that with Facebook’s massive resources that they’d be able to integrate e-commerce within Instagram. Granted I’m no coder but they have to have some pretty bright people over there in the blue world.

  10. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    You know, that’s very true Chris–with product pins linking directly to product pages, I guess that is exactly what this is (minus the description view). I guess I’m really looking for the simplicity of “never leave the app” experience. But then again, that’s not what Instagram is doing either. I’ll think on this some more.

  11. Chris Wilson Avatar

    Interesting stuff Dustin. I wonder how a lifestyle blogger/instagrammer could use this and the team up approach seems to make sense. I mean, that’s how many folks are making their income already from Instagram, promote products within their photos and provide links in their profile. This is certainly easier. Do you really think Pinterest needs to compete in this way, after all on Pinterest you can have a link to a webpage? Why do you need a specific shopping integration apart from to take people directly to a shopping basket (although I suspect that will have a higher conversion rate). Even still, I suspect with instagram and pinterest, they play off brand recognition marketing more than direct calls to action, get inspiration, build up an idea of what you’re interested in and then some time later buy.

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