Instagram Debuts Shopping Feature

Instagram wants to make mobile shopping easier. The social media site, owned by Facebook, has debuted a feature allowing retailers to add shoppable photo tags for as many as five items within a single post. Clicking on the item pulls up a separate page with more information, plus gives a link to the retailer’s mobile site, so the user can make a purchase.

Initially, the new feature is being tested by 20 brands, including Kate Spade, J.Crew, Warby Parker and Macy’s, and the shopping tags will only be available on Apple devices to a select group of U.S. Instagrammers. James Quarles, Instagram’s vice president of monetization, told AdWeek that if this beta test is successful, it could lead to running similar products in ads and its Explore section. An Instagram for Business blog post lays out some possibilities for the future, such as adding product recommendations, global expansion of shopping features and the ability to save content for later action. “We want to understand how to deliver the most seamless shopping experience for consumers and businesses on Instagram, and ultimately mobile,” the post continued.

Mary Beech, chief marketing officer for Kate Spade, told AdWeek that Instagram’s new feature could help make the process of going from social media inspiration to online shopping less clunky. “This opportunity to have a product through Instagram that allows our customer – if she should choose – to shop directly from the piece of content seems like such an easy decision to make and a customer-centric decision,” she added.

The other brands testing the Instagram feature were equally optimistic. “This test is going to change the scope of what we, as retailers, are capable of offering on mobile,” Ryan McIntyre, chief marketing officer of JackThreads, said in the Instagram for Business blog post. “Instead of having to transition over to the JackThreads app, our customers will be able to shop seamlessly from their social media feeds – allowing us to reach guys where they’re already hunting for what’s new.”