Instagram forays into shopping with new set of mobile tools

NewYork,Nov2:People are increasingly turning to their smartphones to peruse products and mull over options before deciding what to buy.

Catering to this trend, Instagram on Tuesday launched a series of new shopping tools that make it easier for users to research products within Instagram’s mobile app and make a purchase. The Facebook-owned company is launching a test this month among select U.S. users on iOS devices that allows 20 U.S.-based retailers such as Kate Spade, Warby Parker and Jack Threads, to share more detailed information about products in their posts and let users quickly jump from viewing a product on Instagram to buying that item on the business’ site. The test features a new ”tap to view” icon at the bottom left of a photo post, which when tapped, highlights up to five products with price information. Users can click on specific products to learn more and browse additional photos, without leaving Instagram. And last, users will be able to click a “Shop Now” link from the product details screen to view the item directly on the retailer’s site.

Instagram’s vice president of monetization James Quarles said in a phone interview that the new shopping features reflect an internal study that found that the vast majority Instagram users prefer to spend more than a day mulling over a potential purchase, making only 21% of purchases within a day. As a result, Instagram wanted to focus on making product research less complicated, Quarles said.

“Mobile is changing shopping, but mobile today can feel like going from a shop window to the cash register, missing the whole experience of browsing and trying things on,” Quarles said. “Businesses and people are looking to fuel that initial spark.”

 “There is a huge opportunity to connect the steps people take on their journey to research and actually purchase products and services,” he added, describing Instagram as an app where users are open to discovery and finding new inspiration.

Kate Spade, one of the test partners, described the features as a helpful storytelling tool that lets shoppers more readily imagine a product as theirs.

“Instagram is where we reflect the interesting life of the Kate Spade New York girl through relatable social moments which highlight the products that are characters in her story,” Kate Spade’s chief marketing officer Mary Beech said in a statement. ”This post features our favorite new bag and elements from our new personalization program that, together, make the bag uniquely hers. With this seamless shopping experience launching on Instagram, the possibilities for selling our products are endless.”

 Instagram said it plans to make the features available globally over time. As it reviews the test results, the company also said it plans to explore introducing product recommendations, new ways to showcase products for shoppers and “save” tools to create a mobile shopping experience that’s seamless from start to finish. Over time, Instagram plans to include video in the new feature, and will continue to assess the possibility of a buy button.

“When we find success here we want to connect it to other places in the app, like Explore, your profile and potentially Stories,” Quarles said. ”A shopping experience needs to be thought of as a journey

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