Instagram Introduces a Shopping Tab to Its Explore Page, Presenting New Opportunities for Brands

It rolls out today

Shopping on Instagram is getting its own channel on the app. Instagram
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

It’s no stand-alone shopping app, but the Explore page on Instagram is getting a dedicated channel to shopping.

The Explore page, which groups different types of content together (like an animal or photography channel), went through a transformation earlier this year and is now rolling out a dedicated shopping channel.

Think of the new shopping channel as the Pinterest of shoppable posts on Instagram: consumers can tap on the channel (which will appear at the top of the Explore page, like other ones already do) and see shopping posts from brands they already follow and ones the algorithm thinks they will like as well. The update isn’t that surprising considering Instagram also announced that more than 90 million users tap on shopping posts to see the product tags.

“Usage of Stories presents a brand new opportunity for merchants to get their products and brands in front of fans in addition to the regular feed,” said Satish Kanwar, vp of product at Shopify. “With [a] new presence in Explore, they can also reach a broad new audience of potential fans who are highly likely to want to engage with their content, but who don’t yet actively follow them. It’s a whole new chance for discovery.”

For Shopify, the new channel, as well Instagram enabling shopping from Instagram Stories, is a logical step to understanding how consumers actually shop.

Shopping happens everywhere: People find products on Instagram, for instance and then they might complete the purchase on the actual online storefront or through a marketplace,” Kanwar said. “The ability to buy across multiple channels provides consumers today with full control over their individual commerce experience.”

However, Rachel Tipograph, founder and CEO of MikMak, a social commerce video company that helps brands create both video content and websites to product pages, isn’t sure how much the channel will actually lead to sales for a brand’s bottom line.

Shopping discovery is an increasing priority for Instagram, yet none of their features shorten the path to purchase,” Tipograph said. “Adding a ‘Shop’ tab to the explore page within Instagram will hopefully cause more clicks on Product Tags. However, there are limitations with Product Tags, they mainly live on in-feed organic static imagery, only work for direct-to-consumer product catalogs and just lead a user to a website product detail page.”

Instagram had another announcement yesterday, saying the platform will also incorporate shopping functionality on its popular Stories format, which has ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce excited.

“BigCommerce merchants were some of the first to get access to shopping on Instagram functionality, and after seeing the immediate impact it had on customer engagement and sales growth, they have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to extend that product tagging to Instagram Stories,” said Jimmy Duvall, chief product officer at BigCommerce. “Today’s announcement represents yet another way that our merchants are able to use social commerce to create meaningful connections with their customers.”

Liz Cebron, vp of brand innovation at Madewell, which was an original partner of the beta test for this feature, said the brand was “excited” that it was a part of the program that’s now rolling out globally.

“Since we introduced Instagram shopping in feed last year, we’ve seen our demand from the channel more than double and we expect to see similar results over time with the introduction of shopping in stories,” Cebron said.

Considering Salesforce predicted Instagram referral traffic to retail sites will climb 51 percent year over year this holiday season, these new features will only add to making that forecast come true.

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@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.