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Instagram launches shoppable posts as it looks to play a bigger role in ecommerce

Instagram is launching shoppable posts as it looks to create a “seamless experience” for retailers.

The ‘shopping’ feature will allow brands and businesses to tag up to five products in organic posts which consumers can then tap on the product to find out more information and make a purchase.

Amy Cole, Instagram’s head of business development tells Marketing Week: “Shopping will give a seamless experience for users who want more information on products. They can go through Instagram without having to switch between apps and with a couple of taps buy the product.”

Shopping essentially acts like a shop window so that users can explore products from businesses they follow. It works like the current tagging option but instead of people brands will be able to tag products. Followers will be able to click on a post and immediately see the name and price of the product; if they then click on the tag consumers will be brought to a more detailed page – with more product details, similar items and other shoppable posts from the brand – all without going into the product website. Then, if the consumer taps the ‘Shop Now’ link from the product details view, they’ll go directly to that product on the business’s website.

Cole says the shopping feature is the most requested ask from both users and brands and won’t have an overtly commercial feel. She explains: “It’s clearly something that people have wanted and have been asking for and we have done it in a way that feels really native to Instagram.

“Given the number of requests we get everyday about this means it has huge potential. It’s an incredible tool which makes what people are already doing much easier. It takes a lot of friction out of shopping and will hopefully be an invaluable addition to brands’ ecommerce strategy.

Shopping is only available to those with Instagram business accounts and, after launching in the US in 2016, will now be available in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Cole says that Instagram has already see positive results in the US with one brand increasing its revenue by 8% thanks to the feature.

For shopping to work, businesses must sync a product catalogue with their Facebook Shop so that Instagram can pull in all product catalogue information from Facebook, including a link back to the website.

For just under two weeks Instagram has trialled the feature with three UK brands: luxury swimwear brand Heidi Klein, slipper company Mahabis and Marks and Spencer.

Erin Roy, head of media and digital marketing at Marks & Spencer says: “Instagram Shopping offers us the opportunity to realise the huge potential of our 760,000 followers. Instagram has always been a great platform through which to showcase our products and engage with customers. Shoppable posts take this to a whole new level. They are simple to create, easy for our customers to use and enhance the Instagram experience.”

In addition to the current insights that Instagram offers for businesses, brands will be able to see what posts gain the most product clicks and which product tags were the most popular.

Instagram will continue to hone the feature after the launch. “Even as we start rolling out we’ll be testing and learning to see how people are engaging, how to make the process simpler for brands and businesses, and what’s working or how to make it better,” Cole says.

Shopping is currently free although there are plans to offer a paid feature to promote posts beyond a brand’s followers in the future.