Have you used shops on Instagram? With over a billion active users and growing, Instagram may already be one of your favorite places to promote your e-commerce store. However, lots of opportunities exist for marketing on the channel, so it can be a great place to build a follower base and get the word out about your products and brand.
What if you could take passive interaction to the next level and actually buy and sell directly from the platform? That’s possible with Instagram shopping. This can be enticing for Instagram users and e-commerce shops who want to keep their interaction, from discovery to sale, right there on Instagram itself.
What Is an Instagram Shop?
Instagram shops are an option for Instagram account holders who have e-commerce brands to sell directly from the Instagram platform.
They provide a way for Instagram users to interact and shop with brands they love, find new brands they might like, and purchase through the Instagram app.
An Instagram shop exists like a mini e-commerce store, within Instagram, as an extension of your brand’s page. As a brand owner, you can build collections that are customizable and reflective of your style and perspective.
Shops can choose to allow purchasing directly from the app, using Facebook Pay, or they use their Instagram shop to point to an off-site e-commerce store. Either way, they can build a more interactive shopping experience for their users.
How Does Instagram Shopping Work?
Instagram Shopping is a pretty simple process for Instagram users. The whole idea of this feature is to make things more enticing, so users spend more time on the app, checking out the shops they love, as well as discovering new brands.
To find shops you want to explore or buy from, go to the little shopping icon that looks like a shopping bag on the app:
From there, you will see shops from brands you already follow, as well as some that are recommended based on your interactions on Instagram. You can also check out “Editor’s Picks” to see different categories, such as Gift Guides, and to explore collections and other recommendations.
If you click “Browse Shops,” you’ll see a listing of brands you already follow who have shops on Instagram. This can be a great place to start when you’re exploring because you probably already have an interest in the products and may have even purchased from them in the past.
Once you click on a shop, you’ll see the products and collections they have available.
From there, you can learn more or choose to buy, just like you would at an e-commerce site.
How to Set Up an Instagram Shop
To set up a shop on Instagram for your brand, you must have an Instagram Business account, and you must be eligible. According to Instagram, eligibility includes but is not limited to:
- Operating in a supported market (dependent on your location)
- Having an e-commerce website from which you sell products
Remember, an Instagram shop is an extension of your e-commerce store, not necessarily a replacement for it.
You will then have to connect your Facebook account. More later on how those two are connected and why it matters for your Instagram Shopping account.
You then follow the steps to set up your account, load your product images, and “turn on shopping.”
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you go through those technical steps:
- Use high-quality, editorial images for your products and collections: Think of your Instagram shop as a type of interactive catalog. Be selective about the images you are using for your products. Make sure they stand out and show lots of detail.
- Have all your product information on hand: Again, thinking about this as a catalog, you will need to enter all the descriptive information about each product, including prices, colors, sizes, flavors, types, etc. You’ll also need information about shipping and other details. Keep it all at the ready before you dive in.
- Get ready to tag: After getting your Instagram shop set up, the last step Instagram recommends is to start tagging. When you upload an image, select “Tag Products” and type in the name of the product you want to tag to that post. You will be able to do this in Instagram Stories as well.
Benefits of Having an Instagram Shop
Why would brand managers want to take the time to set up shops on Instagram? First, let’s look at some numbers. According to Instagram, 60% of people interviewed said they discover new products on the app. Facebook says 70% of people referred to as shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram to shop, and 36% of all Instagram users consider shopping to be a hobby of theirs.
The best reason to set up shops on Instagram is to tap into that enthusiasm. Think of Instagram Shopping as the trendiest mall from back in the day, with eager buyers walking around and window shopping. You want to be there with your brand too, right?
Here are some more benefits of having a shop on Instagram:
- It’s free: Yes, you can set up your Instagram shop for free. The only fees associated would be a selling fee when customers place an order and the fee for any ads you use to promote your products or shop.
- It’s another online storefront: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, they say, and that applies to online shopping too. If a hiccup occurs with one platform, you’re already set up somewhere else.
- It’s a mobile catalog: Instagram has designed these shops to be very clean and scannable. They are easy to peruse and to get an overall idea of a brand’s look, as well as to dig in and learn more about the products. For this reason, you can think of shops on Instagram as a kind of mobile catalog. You may even find yourself sending people there to get a feel for what you sell, just because it’s so easy to scroll through.
- It’s a way to build your following: As we talked about earlier, people are going on Instagram looking to shop. Setting up your shop there is a prime way to draw buyers who are ready to make a purchase, as well as to build a following for your Instagram account (which probably supports your overall social media marketing strategy).
Instagram Shopping vs. Facebook Shops
You may be wondering how shops on Instagram compare with shops on Facebook. While they are different platforms, they are both under the Facebook umbrella.
Remember that corporate Facebook owns Instagram, which means Facebook powers Instagram Shopping. To set up your Instagram shop, you will need to link to your Facebook account, and, as mentioned, payment is processed through Facebook Pay.
Should you set up an Instagram shop and a Facebook shop? Here are a couple of considerations to help you decide:
- Link easily: Because you need Facebook to launch the Instagram shop, it may be worth having products on both platforms. You can use the same products and collections on each if that makes sense for your target market and brand.
- Consider demographics: Your target market may spend more time on Instagram than on Facebook. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure you set up an Instagram shop. If your target market straddles both the demographics of Facebook and Instagram, you may want to set up a shop on each.
Submitting and Receiving Payment for Instagram Shopping Products
How do you go about actually buying and selling with Instagram Shopping? A big part of this question is how money is exchanged.
Remember you can choose to have your products point to your e-commerce site. Buyers will then be directed to your website, in a browser within the Instagram app, rather than processing the purchase through the Instagram platform.
However, if you want to save buyers that step, you can set up payment options to allow the transaction through Instagram. When you set up your shop, you’ll need to link to Facebook Pay. We noted above the relationship between Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Pay is how you receive payments for purchases made.
When you purchase something from shops on Instagram, you’ll need to submit your credit card, debit card, or PayPal information to use Facebook Pay to finalize the transaction.
How to Promote Your Instagram Shop
Once you have an Instagram shop up and running, you’ll want to find ways to promote it and draw potential customers to your new location. Here are some tips for achieving that:
- Launch timely collections: When you create collections or groupings of products to showcase in your shop, think about the browsing buyers first and what they are searching for right now. Instagram recommends thinking about seasons, holidays, or pop culture moments to create collections that connect with and attract buyers.
- Make it easy for shoppers: When you create posts and stories, make sure to choose the “Tag Product” option to link directly to your shop products. Also, Facebook recommends adding calls-to-action in your captions to remind buyers of what to do. Another recommendation is to update your bio with shopping information.
- Invest in ads: Want to reach even more people with your Instagram shop? You could consider launching an ad on Instagram with clickable tags that draw people to your shop.
Alternatives to Instagram Shopping
There could be a few reasons why a shop on Instagram is not the right platform for your brand, or maybe you want to explore other shop options to find a better fit. Some of those reasons may be:
- It’s not the right demographic: Yes, Instagram is wildly popular, but not everyone is shopping there. If the target market of your brand is not tech-savvy, doesn’t tend to use Instagram, or prefers not to shop on new platforms, you may not want to set up an Instagram shop.
- There aren’t enough products: Shops on Instagram showcase collections of products well, allowing brands to launch or promote groups of products. If you are only selling one item, it may not be worth your time to set up a shop. However, even one product, if photographed and promoted well, could be popular there.
- They aren’t physical products: You do need to sell a physical product. Digital products or services are not sellable with the app.
- It’s not in the right location: As mentioned earlier, you do need to operate in a location where Instagram Shopping is available. If you don’t, you’ll need to find an alternative.
In these cases, or if you’re just looking for more customization or wider tools, you may want to choose an alternative to Instagram Shopping. Examples may include:
- Like2Buy: With Like2Buy, you can build shoppable solutions, as well as create other calls-to-action, such as requesting email addresses of potential customers.
- Yotpo: In addition to several e-commerce marketing tools, Yotpo offers an Instagram integration tool.
- FourSixty: Advertising a design-centric aesthetic, FourSixty provides Instagram marketing tools, including shoppable galleries and scheduling.
Shops on Instagram allow you to interact with your followers (and new buyers!), in a seamless way. You can create collections just in time for a season or holiday and promote your products to an audience that is eager to buy.
This feature allows brand owners to sell on Instagram dynamically. While it may not be the only solution you need, it can be a great addition to your Instagram sales strategy.
Will you be shopping and selling directly on the Instagram app? Or do you prefer a more traditional e-commerce platform?