Australian retailers now have access to Instagram shopping tags, connecting potential customers to their e-commerce sites through the social media platform.
Instagram first announced plans to trial a range of e-commerce focused product tags in 2016, allowing brands in the US to tag items with product and pricing information, giving them the ability to directly link Instagram images to online stores for easy purchasing.
At the time, Australian retailers told SmartCompany the concept would be a good fit for the Australian market, because it marries a consumer’s desire to follow a brand on Instagram with the ability to quickly buy the products they see on the site.
Instagram has today confirmed the functionality will be extended to a range of new markets, including Australia, Brazil and Spain.
In a statement, Naomi Shepherd, group industry director for Facebook and Instagram ANZ, said the move will allow customers to engage with brands in a “fresh, immersive way”.
Instagram has rolled out a trial of the functions in recent weeks, with key partners including Myer and Country Road.
E-commerce platform BigCommerce also partnered with the social media platform to allow its business clients to see how the shopping option could improve traffic to their e-commerce sites.
BigCommerce user Incy Interiors will continue to use the service after taking part in a two-week trial earlier this year, with founder Kristy Withers telling SmartCompany the process was straightforward and she saw an immediate uptick in sales. The brand has close to 80,000 Instagram followers.
Exciting news: We’ve enabled shopping on Instagram with @bigcommerce! It’s a fantastic feature that allows our customers to tap and buy exactly what they like without ever leaving the @instagram experience. As one of the first merchants in Australia to have this feature, we found it super simple to use and are excited to give our customers an even better shopping experience. Let us know what you think in the comments! ???? #incyinteriors #shoppableinstagram #bigcommerce
“We did the trial for two weeks, and we saw a five percent uptick in online sales,” Withers says.
The children’s furniture retailer had been waiting for Instagram to extend its shopping functionality to Australia. Withers says having the link between Instagram and the store is a better use of everyone’s time, including the company’s social media manager.
“It just makes a better user experience — most of our images have one of our products in it, so it makes sense,” she says.
She doesn’t believe the tags will be too distracting to Instagram users, either, because pricing information is only visible to those following an account if they click into the item for further information.
“It’s not offensive, you don’t see a thousand tags,” she says.
In statement provided to SmartCompany, Instagram Australia says businesses who want to use the functionality can follow four steps to set up their accounts.
Retailers must have their profiles set to business accounts, ensure they are admin of the page and then either use their Facebook shop to upload items, or upload their product account through a business manager, like their e-commerce platform provider.
According to Instagram, globally more than 200 million users visit a business profile each day, with 80% of Instagram users following at least one business.
Rollout piques interest of other retail brands
For Sydney toy store Bambino Manly, Instagram has always proven a strong way to get people into the store, says founder Susan Steel.
“Currently my Instagram approach is a little haphazard, but I find it very important — it brings people into the shop,” she says.
The news of the new shopping functions is “definitely good”, Steel says, who now plans to look into whether it will work for her business.
“The idea of having a product tag ‘to buy’? I think it’s fantastic, almost a cheat,” she says.
Healthy snack product business Health Labs also has a strong Instagram presence, but founder Jess Thomas says it will be listening to its community before deciding whether the company takes up the new option.
“If these changes are something our community wants, engages with and enjoys as a part of their Instagram experience, then we are totally on board,” Thomas says.