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Instagram Takes Bigger Step Into Social Commerce

Posted on 3.27.2017
Whether it's socks or software, high-profile brands, individuals or groups are often given early access to products in order for the providing company to gather insights and make tweaks before sharing with the masses. Social networks are no different, and Instagram started testing a new shopping experience last November with retailers like Kate Spade and Warby Parker to make it easier for people to find, evaluate and track relevant products on Instagram.

"Based on encouraging early results, we’re rolling out these shopping features to thousands of businesses that sell apparel, jewelry or beauty products in the coming weeks," Instagram wrote. "Instagrammers in the U.S. will soon be able shop and browse products from these businesses from posts in feed, on profile and in explore."

In addition to being able to shop and browse products on a retailer's profile, within the user's feed or in the search functionality, businesses will be able to tag a post with products directly from their iOS phone. According to Instagram, once a business has a product catalog connected to their account, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post. Currently, only select U.S. retailers and businesses that use the commerce platforms BigCommerce and Shopify can tag products on Instagram. It is recommended that current BigCommerce and Shopify customers contact their e-commerce platform provider and join Instagram's wait list.

Website Magazine connected with BigCommerce to learn more about the partnership, what the updates mean for social commerce in general and what the emerging best practices are for Instagram Shopping. 

Website Magazine (WM): Why should retailers consider Instagram for social commerce if they either haven’t had success with social commerce on other networks in the past or haven’t considered it all together?

Nate Stewart (NS), Group Manager of Product at BigCommerce: The Instagram community is unique. There are now more than 600 million active users on the network, 70 percent of whom follow at least one business account, proving that consumers are interested in connecting with brands that provide compelling content. Unlike other social networks where consumers may not yet be used to the idea of shopping or making a purchase, influencers have actually been using Instagram to promote product purchases using apps like LiketoKnow.it for some time. In fact, Instagram reports that 60 percent of people discover new products through the platform and 75 percent take an action — such as visiting the retailer’s website — after being inspired by a post. It’s clear that consumers are interested in product discovery on Instagram, but until now the tools available to retailers have been lacking, leading to subpar shopping experiences for customers.

WM: How does BigCommerce help support retailers interested in Instagram’s new capabilities?

NS: BigCommerce is one of only two e-commerce platforms actively working with Instagram to natively integrate their new shopping capabilities into the platform, which means that our 50,000-plus merchants will be among the first to gain access to new features like product tagging to make their posts “shoppable.” Much like our native integrations with Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon and eBay, Instagram will show up as a separate channel within a merchant’s BigCommerce store admin, and merchants can sync their existing product inventory in just a few clicks. Our channel integrations are designed to help merchants reach customers wherever they choose to shop, and this is just one of many things we are investing in to ensure our customers are set up for success.

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WM: How can retailers optimize their product posts for better conversions?

NS: While Instagram Shopping may have just rolled out this week, we have dozens of merchants that have found incredible success using Instagram as part of their marketing toolkit, many of whom we featured in a recent blog post. There are a few things that can make a significant impact on the success of an Instagram product post:

  1. Bring products to life. Despite shopping transitioning from store to screen, consumers still need to be able to envision how a particular item will fit their lifestyle. Because of this, lifestyle photography tends to perform better than static product photos on Instagram.
  2. Quality Matters. While Instagram Stories has opened the door for more “spur of the moment” brand posting, the most successful brands and influencers on Instagram regularly feature compelling, high-quality imagery. Without an opportunity to touch and see the product in-person, consumers may equate the quality of marketing efforts to the quality of a product, so good photography is an opportunity to entice buyers.

WM: What are some best practices retailers should follow for tagging products in posts?

NS: The beauty of Instagram Shopping is that it gives brands an opportunity to move their consumers from discovery to consideration to purchase quickly. In order to do so, it’s important for brands to provide consumers with all the necessary information — high-quality compelling product imagery, detailed product descriptions, clear pricing and a direct link to your site’s product detail page where they can complete the purchase.

Additionally, make sure you are working with an e-commerce platform like BigCommerce to help manage your omnichannel efforts. Not only is it one of the two e-commerce platforms working with Instagram to natively integrate this technology, but it allows merchants to easily sync their store’s existing product catalog to Instagram’s back-end –– a process that, done manually, can often be cumbersome –– without adding cost or technical complexity to the merchant.

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