Vincent Sevilla is a professional web designer and inbound strategist for Grit PH. His goal? To innovate ideas, create good art, and to travel all the best places in the Philippines. You can follow him on Twitter @easyvince.
Many companies that want to improve conversion rates or drive more traffic to their shops turn to social media. It’s not a novel concept: the power of social media to drive sales has been recognized since 2016 when it was already considered the “most used and most important medium” for online promotion.
Social media’s power as a means to market wares has become so substantial that it gave rise to the influencer culture when brands would tap into the influence and follower-power of some of the biggest names on the many different social platforms.
As a medium for showcasing products and services, social media has been one of the most significant changes when it comes to e-commerce. There’s no denying that social media and influence now have substantial potential to control an audience and prime them for shopping. And how could it not, when the numbers show that this is where the audience gets the most exposure?
- Worldwide, global internet users spend an average of 142 minutes per day as of 2019.
- At least 36% of internet users in the US feel that social media has had a significant influence when it comes to their decisions on making purchases. In their opinion, social media is a critical source of product information.
Instagram’s Big Social Media Shopping Impact
Social media is where the brand’s presence is genuinely felt. Instagram alone proves it. According to a Facebook survey, which has acquired Instagram, Instagrammers rely heavily on social media information and images to decide whether or not they would purchase an item.
Consider the following:
- 83% of the users state that they use Instagram to discover new products and services, particularly from the people that they follow and admire.
- 81% of the respondents added that they use Instagram to actively research products if they feel they need to know more about them. These could be reviews or testimonies from other people who have already used them.
- Finally, 80% of them use Instagram to make their final purchase decisions. At least 46% of the users surveyed also added that they purchased after seeing it on Instagram.
Through Instagram, brands can offer their wares to the broader audience, and through this, they improve conversion rates. Entire product categories have enjoyed significant benefits from the Instagram promotions within its photo-centric platform.
Brands have taken full advantage of it by creating some incredibly “photo-worthy” content, baiting customers into taking photos of the products. Food stalls have created increasingly “Instagrammable” snacks and meals while clothing companies have come up with quirky, quotable prints on their basics. Even houseplants have seen an increase in sales thanks to millennials posting beautiful bedroom layouts full of foliage.
Brands and retailers have benefited immensely from the photos created by their customers. The user-generated content gives other users a “real-life view” of the products and what the items would look like. It also offers potential customers a chance to get a look at how the product performs, especially if they find someone similar to themselves using it.
A Marketing Week report has also found that most users make sure to follow brands on social media to understand their products better.
- 56% of them go to social media to see products.
- 41% of them look for the brand’s latest range of products and learn about when they launch.
- 35% of them seek out ideas for when they do go shopping next time.
- 24% are browsing to look for gift inspirations.
- Finally, 16% of the users follow the brands to be informed of the latest trends.
In an analysis of these numbers, the report proves that consumers are ready to purchase immediately. This leads to Instagram’s latest updates of allowing users to shop directly within the platform. It started with the “price tag” feature, enabling Instagram users to tap on an image and see the names and prices of the products and items seen therein. Then, the “Swipe Up” options in Instagram Stories allowed viewers to be linked straight to a product page that the story was promoting. These added features brought in a definite increase and improvement in conversion rates for brands.
Now, Instagram is poised to change the game again with Instagram Shops.
Shopping Right in the ‘Gram with Instagram Shops
Now that Instagram has seen customers respond favorably to the price tags and the Swipe Up content, they are now preparing to modify how consumers shop by creating Instagram Shops. This new feature will potentially give Instagram’s one billion users direct access to purchases.
An Instagram shop will allow brands and retailers with Instagram business accounts to create a storefront right in the platform. Although Instagram itself is first and foremost a social media platform, it will allow brands to develop their store on the app and make purchases without ever leaving the app. It cuts out a whole step in the sales funnel and makes marketing more straightforward for business.
The process works in a more streamlined fashion. Users would be browsing through their Instagram feeds, and a product they see on the photo will catch their eye; perhaps they would see a product sticker on an Instagram story. All they would have to do is tap the image to see the brand’s post and the product description and price.
For users who are in the US, they would be able to make the internal purchase right on the platform. Currently, the in-app purchase feature is available only to the US but is expected to roll out to the rest of the world.
If You Sell It, They Will Come: Instagram as the New Shopping Destination
What is the goal of all this? Wouldn’t it be better to improve conversion rates and direct traffic to the company website at the same time instead? Why have users make in-app purchases to begin with?
Instagram explains in a recent press release that the Instagram Shops and in-app purchases are made as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world. In conjunction with Facebook’s initiative for in-app purchases with Facebook Shops, the in-app shops will strengthen small businesses. Everyone is making the shift to online selling and purchasing since many people cannot leave their homes. This opens up a new means of revenue for small sellers to get started on their business even with very little capital.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a monetary incentive for Facebook and Instagram to do this. Their Business Help Center explains that there would be a fee for any product sold via Instagram Checkout like any other online selling platform. It’s roughly 5% per shipment or a flat fee of $.04 for any purchase that costs less than $8.
Should You Do It For the ‘Gram?
So, is an Instagram Shop beneficial for a brand? There are specific advantages that may tip the scales towards setting up an Instagram storefront for a small business.
It’s online shopping, simplified.
Because Instagram is such a dynamic platform, it gives brands and shops the perfect gateway towards customers from all walks of life. They will easily find their target audience, giving them a seamless transition through the purchasing process.
Also, the online world is typically full of information overload, and for some companies, it may be challenging to get customers to focus on the purchase. An Instagram store cuts out the noise—a potential customer sees something they like or want to purchase, they tap it and buy it right there, right away.
It keeps the consumer as the big focus.
Many consumers have confirmed in surveys and studies that Instagram is their go-to when they want to connect with other people who have already bought or tried the product. Regardless of the category, people look for product purchase ideas through Instagram. Therefore, this platform lets brands market directly to the target audience and not have to wade through many other demographics who wouldn’t be interested. This means higher ROI when it comes to marketing and improved conversion rates.
It puts “impulse buying” on a hair-trigger.
Peer pressure and fear of missing out (FOMO) are dominant in social media, and it’s never more evident than on Instagram. Users see the platform’s biggest stars flaunting a couple of items, or perhaps they see just about everyone with a specific new thing that has been branded as a must-have. Either way, impulse buying is a significant part of the social media experience, and Instagram Shops tap directly into it.
Instead of a potential customer going through numerous other steps (clicking a link to go to a website, encountering a landing page, browsing, putting an item on the wish list, or a cart), it cuts straight to the immediate purchase. It limits the customer’s chance of changing their mind midway in the sales funnel and pushes a faster close to the deal, leading to improved conversion rates.
The Weapons at an Instagram Shopkeeper’s Disposal
Instagram Shops have an arsenal of new features for store owners to utilize to make the most of this eCommerce transformation.
Posting on the Shopping Feed
Feed posts are the most basic and the center of the Instagram experience. This is where users browse through photos and posts of the people they follow. Brands take advantage of this by posting their regular marketing images on their feeds, but with product tags added to showcase a product description and an alternate image for the item, the description, and the link. By far, it’s the simplest means to integrate shopping into the platform, but also one of the most effective.
Utilizing the shopping carousel
The Instagram carousel is a relatively new feature to feeds: it features a post with multiple images that a user can swipe through. A carousel is multiple photos found in a single post. In the same way that brands can use standard posts, they can add up to 20 tagged products through the carousel’s images. It’s an excellent method to release a brand-new line of products as a form of showcasing them. Several luxury brands have already been using the carousel to show customers how their products look in multiple angles or situations.
Tag the Stories
Instagram Stories is one of the most popular features of the platform. These 24-hour posts are temporary, quirky, and a significant source of engagement. Brands can now make their stories shoppable.
Swipe Up has already proven itself attractive to customers who want to see more information about something they see on the stories. But now there are also product stickers that brands can add to their stories for quick purchases. Tagged products on the stories are another great way to let followers know about new promos, new releases, or quick restocks. It makes sure that they know that they have to act fast or risk missing out.
Take it to Augmented Reality.
AR is one of the newer means to transform how people interact with the world around them. People recognize AR as a means to use their smartphones to see new digital features in the world around them. Apart from games and social promotions, AR can also be used for e-commerce, and Instagram is giving this power to brands.
Now, customers can virtually “try on” products to see how they look on them before buying it. Currently, the feature is still in beta testing. But soon, customers will be able to try on clothes, makeup, and other items virtually before buying them. Furthermore, brands can create customized, personal experiences for each customer.
Instagram has, in many ways, changed how people connect. It drives their motivations, ideas, and inspirations. It’s not a surprise that it’s made such a tremendous impact on e-commerce as well. Now that Instagram is taking things to a whole new level by integrating the shopping experience into their platform, it’s a tremendous opportunity for brands to find a new audience, make more significant impacts, and, at a lower cost, compared to a traditional marketing campaign.
Has your brand experienced marketing on Instagram? Would you be using the new e-commerce features on the platform? Sound off on the comments below.