Small businesses may soon be able to sell their products directly to shoppers via direct messages on Instagram, following the release of a new feature that has already been rolled out in the US.
Announcing the new “payments in chat” feature on Tuesday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said shoppers will also now be able to track their orders via the Instagram chat function.
For US Instagram users, the feature will be available when they send a direct message to a qualified small business. Within the one chat thread, they will be able to pay for their item using Meta Pay (previously called Facebook Pay), track the status of their order and send follow-up questions.
From the business’ perspective, they will be able to confirm purchases, create payment requests and collect payments from buyers. Businesses won’t need to already be set up with Facebook or Instagram Shops to use the new feature, although Meta noted that they can move to the Shops platform when they are ready to open a digital storefront.
In a blog post explaining the new feature, Meta said 1 billion people message a business each week across its apps, which also includes Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp. This includes users chatting with brands, browsing products, asking for support or interacting with stories.
“We want to help people start conversations with businesses they care about and help them fund and buy products they love in an easy, seamless experiences, right from the chat thread,” the company said.
It means shoppers will be able to “checkout in a few taps”, Zuckerberg said in an Instagram post.
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Meta has not yet indicated if the “payments in chat” feature will be rolled out beyond the US, however, new features have typically also been expanded to territories like Australia over time.
In November 2020, Instagram added its ‘Shop’ tab in Australia, which offers personalised recommendations, editors’ picks and new product collections from small businesses and brands they follow.
SmartCompany has contacted Meta for further details.