Instagram is adding to its e-commerce capabilities in Australia, in a bid to make it easier for brands to market to their followers. And, it’s launching a world-first in-app sales event to celebrate, just in time for the Christmas rush.
The new ‘Shop’ tab, which will appear on users’ home screens, will offer personalised recommendations, editors’ picks and new product collections from small businesses and brands they follow.
The update will also see a ‘Reels’ tab featured on the home page.
In a statement, Naomi Shepherd, group industry director at Facebook Australia, said the new dedicated Shop tab comes as a response to the rise in online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For many Australians, the traditional shopping experience has evolved to fit safely in the palm of their hand,” she said.
According to Instagram data, 90% of users follow at least one business, and 83% say they’ve discovered new products on Instagram.
Views of products for sale have apparently increased by 60% in 2020, compared to last year. And, 80% of people say they’ve made a decision to make a purchase on Instagram.
InstaNight Shopping event on the way
To mark the launch of its new tab, the social media hub is also going all-in on its answer to sales holidays such as Click Frenzy, Singles Day and Amazon’s Prime Day, launching its own InstaNight Shopping event.
From 6pm on Thursday, December 3, Aussie brands will be dropping exclusive offers to their Instagram followers — think discounts, freebies, bundles and free shipping.
Big Aussie brands including Country Road, David Jones and Adore Beauty will be offering exclusive deals, but there are opportunities for smaller, independent businesses, too.
Skincare brand Frank Body, for example, is offering its Rose Gold Illuminator for free with any order of $60 or more.
Funky accessories retailer Jubly-Umph is offering 20% off store-wide, and journal business Write To Me is offering a free poster planner with every purchase over $75.
Aussie luxury leather goods retailer MAISON de SABRÉ is using the event to showcase its latest mini tote product, offering a complimentary matching phone case with every purchase.
Co-founder Zane Sabré tells SmartCompany the business he founded with his brother Omar in 2017 is online-only anyway. These entrepreneurs are millennials and digital natives.
So, of course, a social media sales event suits them down to the ground.
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Instagram offers MAISON de SABRÉ an easy way to connect to customers in over 100 countries, Sabré explains.
But, it also allows the founders to share their brand ethos and values, as well as their products.
With that in mind, working with social media influencers is a big part of their marketing strategy.
“We love to see people who embody our brand values representing our brand and rocking our products,” he says.
MAISON de SABRÉ has been on board with Instagram’s retail offering since the very beginning.
And, while he doesn’t break down exactly how many sales come through the platform, he says “a vast majority” of customers follow the business on social media.
The business has also seen sales increase by about 65% since March. Sabré also puts this down to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise in online shopping due to social distancing measures, and in some cases the closure of physical retail stores.
“I don’t think it will die down,” he says.
“Those that didn’t have the confidence to shop online now do, because they’re more accustomed to it,” he explains.
The world of e-commerce is evolving, and fast, he says. Online retailers have to be able to keep up.
When asked what he hopes to gain from the InstaNight Shopping event, Sabré says he’s keeping a pretty open mind.
It’s part brand awareness and brand recognition, plus a marketing opportunity for the new tote bag. The team has been working on the new product for some time, he adds, and it launched just days ago.
Of course, he’s also in it for the sales conversions. But, it’s also about trying something a little different.
“With a fast-moving and fast-paced company like ours, we’re always testing new things,” he says.
“We’re not entirely sure what InstaNight shopping can bring us … but we’re confident.”
The shifting role of social media
Priscilla Hajiantoni is the founder of Bangn Body, a skincare brand also taking part in the campaign.
During the COVID-19 crisis, she and her team have used Instagram to connect with customers in different, and potentially more meaningful ways.
She launched an IGTV Series, and ran takeover campaigns, all focused on positivity and mental and physical wellbeing.
“It was less about driving the product sales and more about the connection with our audience,” she explains.
She believes the pandemic has created a lasting shift in what people want from their favourite brands.
“Consumers are looking at brands to not just push their product but to educate, to be a best friend and to create a connection,” she suggests.
Hajiantoni echoes Sabré’s sentiments, agreeing that social media tools are as much about building brand and community as they are about making conversions.
In fact, she started building the brand on Instagram before she even had a product to promote.
“I used the account as a ‘mood board’ of what Bangn Body would be,” she explains.
“I didn’t have a product, but I was still able to create a lifestyle for our audience.”