Social platform Instagram has this week started trials of a system allowing users to purchase products directly from within its app.
To launch the new service, Instagram is working with 20 US-based retail brands, including Kate Spade, JackThreads and Warby Parker.
It said: “To test the new experience, 20 US-based retail brands will share posts that have more depth, making it easier for Instagrammers to review, learn about and consider the items that interest them. Each post will have a tap-to-view icon at the bottom left of a photo. When tapped, a tag will appear on various products in the post—showcasing up to five products and their prices. Once a tag is selected, a new detailed view of the product will open.
“This functionality will bring important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey, all without having to leave the Instagram app to search. Then, if the consumer taps the ‘Shop Now’ link from the product details view, they’ll go directly to that product on the business’s website, making it easier for them to buy the product they want.”
Commenting on the development, freelance marketing services expert Laurence Jennings argued that, while this new shopping experience may be a great way to drive impulse purchasing, losing that direct connection with the customer would mean retailers missing out on building brand loyalty.
“If user inspiration on social media leads to a purchase within the social platform and continued reliance on that platform, it is great for them (Instagram, in this case), as they can then drive serious revenue themselves by charging companies to promote their ‘buy now’ buttons alongside related posts and content (just another form of ad revenue like promoted posts),” he said.
“However, what companies miss is the opportunity to take that user’s social inspiration and transfer it to their own platform, at which point they can focus on winning a new customer and converting them into fans of their company/product/brand.”
Mr Jennings argued that this could still be a ‘powerful’ opportunity for businesses to leverage the engagement on social platforms to convert into sales.
Jennings added: “My angle on this will always be… take a step back, have a plan to meet specific objectives, design a well-thought-out customer journey and user experience and then decide what channels, platforms and techniques are suitable and appropriate considering resources, budget, capabilities, target audience preference, etc.”
While he thought the new scheme may benefit larger retailers, Jennings was not so sure it was right for all retailers. He concluded: “It will be great, as long as they know what it will achieve for them.”