How Instagram Is Growing Its Social Shopping Efforts

Users can click on a logo to access product details and go directly to a purchase page

Social commerce continues to show promise, but it hasn’t quite reached mainstream acceptance. Despite being highly influenced by online research, millennials seem resistant to direct-through-social purchasing. Still, Instagram recently announced changes that aim to streamline social shopping and make the process less daunting.

Some of the major hurdles to social shopping include a lack of trust in the purchase systems and a general lack of familiarity with social shopping. Instagram’s new shopping options are an expansion of a pilot program launched last year that enables users to tap the logo to access details on products in photos and go directly to purchase pages.

The idea is to remove obstacles to purchasing items, give users all of the information they need about those products within Instagram and take them directly to the source website to make the purchase. Completing the transaction directly via the ecommerce site also bypasses the social purchase trust issue.

Noelle Sadler, vice president of marketing for fashion retailer Lulus, said in a statement:

An overwhelming majority of Lulus’ customers originally discovered our brand through word-of-mouth—either directly from a friend or through social media—and Instagram continues to be a key discovery platform for us … It has opened a great deal of opportunity for us to engage new and existing customers. We have seen that nearly 33 percent of people who tap to learn more about a product visit our site through “Shop Now.”

The improved click-through rates are likely to result in increased conversions and revenue for businesses under the pilot program, which is why Instagram is now rolling this service out to “thousands of businesses” using the platform in the U.S. Furthermore, the new features will streamline the process for businesses by allowing them to tag items like users once they connect a product catalog to their account.

While consumers are a little reticent, social shopping continues to grow every year. There may be no single system or outcome that finally wins the masses over, but solutions like these could be a way to address concerns from both business and consumers.