What is Instagram Shopping and why do you need it?

After a successful roll out in the US last year, Instagram has finally launched shopping on Instagram for UK business profiles. After a testing period with 20 top UK businesses, including Marks & Spencer and Topshop, the new feature is now available to all business profiles who sell products (not services). The roll out of this new shopping experience also applies to businesses in France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Spain.

Talking about the new shopping update, Instagram’s head of business, Jim Squires, said: “People come to Instagram every day to discover and buy products from their favourite businesses. We want that to be a seamless experience. Whether it’s a local artisan, florist or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier.”.

What is Shoppable Content?

Until recently, content and ecommerce have existed as separate streams. Yes, content could inspire purchase but, in the past, content hasn’t presented consumers with a direct path to purchase. That’s where shoppable content is changing the ecommerce landscape.

Content can now provide consumers with a direct purchasing opportunity allowing them to add products directly to a shopping basket or taking them straight to a product page from within the content.

It allows brands to capture customers in the moment of ‘I want that’ after consuming lifestyle content and drive them straight to purchase.

Shoppable Images on Instagram

Instagram has always been a challenge for brands – on one hand, it’s easy to reach new audiences and build brand aesthetic using fun lifestyle content but on the other hand, with no links on organic posts it’s proven difficult to convert or drive any traffic from the platform.

That’s why this big update is so important. By allowing brands to create shoppable images, Instagram is bridging the gap and providing a way to drive traffic back to brand websites. Instagram shopping is essentially offering brands the chance to cash in on impulsiveness.

Business accounts can now tag up to five products in a single image post or tag 20 products in an image carousel post much in the same way as they would tag a person in an image. Each shoppable image will have a small basket icon on it so users are aware they can shop the items in the photo. When they tap on the image, the product name, price and a link to it appears. Instagram doesn’t support transactions but the shopping links will take the user to the brand’s site where they can complete the purchase.

Here’s how it looks on River Island’s Instagram feed:

Instagram Shopping UKInstagram Shopping UK

Five Instagram Shopping Tips to Drive Sales

  1. Enable Shop tab
    Businesses who have at least nine shoppable images will be able to activate a Shop tab for audiences. We can see below that River Island have activated the tab whereas Route One only has two shoppable images so does not have a Shop tab:River Island Instagram Shop

  3. Alert your audience via Stories
    Tell your audience they can check out your shoppable images via Instagram stories. Last November, Facebook announced that the number of daily Instagram Stories users surpassed 300 million so it shouldn’t be overlooked as a brand communications tool.

  5. Make your shoppable image discoverable
    Instagram shopping currently only applies to organic posts so we need to use relevant hashtags and think about implementing location stickers to make sure our images can be found.

  7. Learn from the data
    Another great thing about Instagram’s shopping experience is the analytics. Brands will be able to access shopper insights, including ‘tap to reveal’ and ‘shop now’ click data for every shoppable post. Use this data to adapt your strategy – try using single image posts and multi-image posts to see what works best. Apply your usual Instagram analytics to this to ensure you’re posting at the right time of day and using the best hashtags.

  9. Consider influencer content
    The beauty of Instagram Shopping is bringing ecommerce to a lifestyle setting. Ensure your images look great and resonate with your audience by collaborating with influencers to create brilliant content.


So, should you add Instagram Shopping to your social strategy?

Quite simply, yes. It’s very easy to do and free to implement. If you already have a good following on Instagram, it only makes sense to drive them to your website to try and convert them. Have a browse through some of the brands already using Instagram Shopping, such as Screwfix or TopShop to see how they are using it and follow our tips to build your shoppable feed. It’s also worth noting that shoppable images only apply to the mobile version of the app and not the desktop version.


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