Can Instagrammable moments turn into immediate and direct sales?

Source: Instagram
Mar 21, 2019
George Anderson

As retailers pursue ways to create Instagrammable moments that will create buzz and drive traffic to their stores and websites, the social media platform is testing a new service that will allow members to directly buy items they find on the app.

In a blog post earlier this week, Instagram announced the introduction of Checkout, a new feature that allows members to buy items they find in their feeds without having to click out of the app. Checkout offers a secure shopping environment and doesn’t require members to log in because it stores members’ payment information.

Instagram product management lead Ashley Yuki said Checkout is a natural extension of the way members currently use the social media site. “We started building this last year, but before we even did anything people were trying to shop for products on Instagram,” Ms. Yuki told Fast Company.

The closed beta test has attracted an impressive list of brands and retailers including Adidas, Burberry, H&M, Michael Kors, Nike, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Revolve, Warby Parker and Zara.

“At our core, Revolve aspires to create a seamless elevated shopping experience for our customer,” said Ryan Pabelona, director of performance marketing for the e-tailer, as part of a blog post announcing the test. “With Instagram’s new checkout interface, we’re able to better serve our Millennially minded audience by providing a new, fast and easy purchase method on a platform where they are already engaging with our content and discovering our products.”

Companies selling through Checkout will pay Instagram a fee for every purchase made through the site. Customers can use American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa to make purchases. Instagram plans to add a PayPal option as it expands the service.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Instagram Checkout become a popular method for members of the social site to make purchases? What do you see as the opportunities and challenges facing the platform?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"This is seriously a game changer and I am surprised it took so long."
"Instagram identified a friction point to becoming a full-fledged marketplace and effectively removed it."
"I’m surprised more retailers aren’t using Instagram, Pinterest and similar apps to their advantage in store. "

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15 Comments on "Can Instagrammable moments turn into immediate and direct sales?"

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Charles Dimov

Very exciting news for all retailers. This opens up a new channel opportunity that has been used widely for marketing, but under-used for retail sales. Scanning over 2,000 retailers around the world (Omni-2000 research), 87.5 percent are present on Instagram (marketing), but only 14 percent made it shopable (sales).

The challenge is to shift into selling mode without feeling too pushy. If customers feel you are getting pushy, or overly salesy then they will drop out and go to your competitors. The exciting part is that this helps diversify your own sales channels. It really emphasizes the importance of omnichannel retailing (you better be on it). I will be interested to see if this puts a dent in the Amazon online marketplace.

Georganne Bender

This is so smart. As a consumer, I can’t tell you the number of times I have thought of purchasing an item I saw on Instagram but hesitated because I didn’t want to go to another site. It wasn’t hard to do, just inconvenient. An added benefit of this program is that social media has made us lazy. A couple of clicks and and we’re good.

Zel Bianco

I think this has significant potential as anything that makes it easier for the consumer/shopper to make a purchase while not having to leave the app is smart. From day one, the goal for all of us, whether we are a solution provider, retailer or brand, is to have the user stay on your site/app as long as possible. Instagram listens and watches what their users do and follows up with ideas and applications that keep their app sticky.

Jeff Sward

Can the viewer be converted into a shopper and then buyer? Does the viewer want to be sold on Instagram? How aggressive or subtle will the selling effort be? Instagram is already a great storyteller, so part of the selling mission is done. If this initiative is finessed well, it could be a significant extension of Instagram’s role.

Lee Kent

Yes, the key is to offer the option. No fuss, no muss, no high pitched marketing or selling. Just make it easy. It may not turn into your biggest channel, since most do not go to Instagram to shop, but it is “another” channel. For my 2 cents.

Ron Margulis

I’m surprised more retailers aren’t using Instagram, Pinterest and similar apps to their advantage in store. Live Twitter feeds are now staples at tech conferences. Sports events are getting on board with live Facebook feeds and proprietary apps to be used at the arenas and tracks. Why can’t a supermarket stream and related sites? Why aren’t drug stores streaming healthcare blogs? And why don’t Home Depot and Lowe’s share building/gardening project podcasts?

Dave Bruno

This update from Instagram is just one more step on the journey to visual search becoming the dominant way we discover products – particularly fashion. Now is the time to investigate the implications and opportunities inherent in visual search, and to begin optimizing your content. I recently documented my first experiences with Google Lens and was impressed by the functionality and stunned by the potential. Mark these words: visual discovery is the future of fashion product discovery.

Evan Snively

This is seriously a game changer and I am surprised it took so long.
Being able to purchase within the platform itself will enable impulse purchases exponentially and purveyors of unique goods like artwork are well positioned to take advantage of this out of the gate.

I see this as a huge opportunity for small/local business owners –
assuming they are disciplined enough to make sure they don’t turn Instagram into ONLY a sales channel. If that happens, they will burn out their followers and lose the community aspect which makes IG what it is.

Ralph Jacobson

We’ve been talking about this type of capability for a while, and I like this opportunity for CPG and retail brands. Why not be where the shopper is at all times? As long as there is a way to comparison shop conveniently via this technology, the shopper will know they’re getting a good deal.

Adrian Weidmann

This has tremendous potential. We live in a visual (“Hollywood”) world where communication is driven by Twitter, emojis, and rich media. Being able to purchase directly from shared images will resonate with digitally-empowered shoppers of ALL ages. Simple, fast, with rich media — exactly what today’s shoppers expect and want.

David Naumann
David Naumann
Vice President, Retail Marketing, enVista
10 months 7 days ago

Instagram Checkout is aligned with what consumers want, quick and easy shopping, and what retailers need, a direct link to sales. This is a fantastic feature to help retailers drive incremental sales and offer them a measurable KPI for their Instagram investment. Great news for Instagram!

Consumers now expect everything to be convenient. The next step for this service is to tie it to PayPal and Apple Pay to make the payment more seamless.

Steve Dennis

This move was inevitable. All brands should be dissecting the customer journey and looking for ways to eliminate friction and/or “amplify the wow” at key moments of truth. While many (if not most) customers will still prefer a more comprehensive shopping experience, I suspect many will appreciate the convenience of being able to buy within the Instagram app.

Jasmine Glasheen

Instagram identified a friction point to becoming a full-fledged marketplace and effectively removed it. Since customers won’t need to leave the app and wait for a retailer’s page to load, there will be nothing to stop casual Instagram browsers and online brand fans from making the purchases that can make a big difference to retailers’ bottom lines.

This will be big. However, I’ll be interested to see how Checkout handles those sticky supply chain areas like online returns.

Kenneth Leung

This is going to be interesting. I think the big one is when the influencers who currently tag what they are touting to be able drive direct sales back to sponsor’s account. Certainly in manufacturer and retailer’s IG the ability to seamlessly purchase is good, but I think activation of the influencer ecosystem is the bigger game changing as it will drive accountability and direct sales

Cate Trotter

This is a sensible and obvious development by Instagram. It’s a serious channel for discovery and inspiration, and therefore anything that makes it easier to convert that into sales is a good thing for brands. There will be some people who have been put off in the past buying things that interest them because of the inconvenience of having to be shifted to another site to transact. It’s not necessary a big thing, but as we all know it’s the little things that easily derail ecommerce experiences. If you can buy without disrupting your Instagram browsing experience then that’s a win. There’ll certainly be things to work out, but I’m definitely watching with interest to see how this progresses.

"This is seriously a game changer and I am surprised it took so long."
"Instagram identified a friction point to becoming a full-fledged marketplace and effectively removed it."
"I’m surprised more retailers aren’t using Instagram, Pinterest and similar apps to their advantage in store. "

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