screenshots of checkout on instagram

How Social Marketers Can Leverage Checkout on Instagram

By: Lucy Kaplan

March 29, 2019

It was not a matter of “will this happen,” so much as when: Instagram has been flirting with e-commerce since 2016, when the platform first announced Shopping Tags for posts (and now Stories). Toward the end of 2018, Instagram dipped its toes a bit deeper into online shopping by adding the “Shop” tab on business profiles. Instagram also added “Shopping Collections,” which helped users keep an eye on the products they liked, but weren’t yet ready to purchase. Instagram also added shopping tags for videos and, as recently as six months ago, a whole shopping feed in the “Explore” section.

Well, now the time has come. Instagram has fully dived into e-commerce. Checkout on Instagram has launched in the U.S. with 23 brands (with more to be “added at a later time,” according to the platform), including Adidas, Warby Parker, Zara, Prada, Mac Cosmetics and Kylie Cosmetics.

The goal of any digital property is to keep people engaged as long as possible, without giving them opportunity to jump ship. Now, everyone that taps on Instagram’s product tags on shopping posts can purchase items without ever leaving the app. The 23 pilot brands will no longer have to direct consumers to their own websites to make a purchase. Where users used to see “View on Website,” they will now see a “Checkout on Instagram” option.

Hopefully, these options will soon be available to all business accounts on Instagram, but for now, social marketers can sit back, relax and watch how the chosen few (so far) are using the feature. Hold onto the Checkout-oriented strategies that you see working—and not working—for the day that the feature becomes more widely available.

Checkout tags will appear in Stories and Explore content as well as in the feeds of brands that are a part of the initially closed beta group. The first time a user attempts to buy directly via Instagram, they will be prompted to enter their payment information, which is then saved for all future purchases. This saves users the hassle of having to sign up for an account with every different brand they shop with. Removing this extra step is great for brands that often see people leaving their shopping cart without completing their purchase.

A spokesperson from Instagram explains, “Once your first order is complete, your information will be securely saved for convenience the next time you shop. You’ll also receive notifications about shipment and delivery right inside Instagram, so you can keep track of your purchase.”

After users buy something within Instagram, they’ll be able to track it from a new “Orders” section of their profile that shows the status of an order, plus options to cancel, initiate a return or contact the merchant. They’ll also get a notification from Instagram when the order ships.

Marketers that work for brands that sell physical products will see many benefits from this launch. Instagram now has more than a billion active monthly users, and because it’s the most visual social media platform, it is ideal for product discovery. Instagrammers love to find new products from brands they love and share them with their followers. Retailers are always looking for more ways to build relationships with these valuable consumers.

Checkout on Instagram will be an opportunity for companies to gain exposure to new consumers. It makes the whole process for consumers easier: Instead of being taken to a mobile version of the brand’s website or seeing something you like and having to Google or search for it on Amazon, everything is done almost in an instant. By solving commonly-reported user pain points of speed, convenience and security, Checkout will reduce the barriers between the moment of discovery and a completed purchase.

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