Instagram Is About To Revolutionize Online Retail

Ben Lee

Ben Lee

CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.

It’s no secret that Instagram’s more than 500 million users love to engage with their content: Instagram’s  organic post engagement remains over 4x that of the nearest social network competitor. By adding the ability to make purchases directly from photos, Instagram has finally united the worlds of advertising, entertainment, and online shopping.

The photo sharing giant aims to create a unique form of storefront and has slowly granted different retailers the ability to tag their posts with “shopping” buttons. Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has created a unique social media platform that connects users with businesses. eMarketer found that 48.8% of brands hold an account, and with 53% of Instagrammers following their favorite brands, it’s no surprise why Instagram wants to enter the e-commerce realm. Instagram is essentially the perfect place to do this—Forrester found that Instagram experiences over 5x the brand engagement of Facebook. GlobalWebIndex states that mobile users who have an Instagram account are 70% more likely to purchase on their mobile device – and with 2/3 of all retail sales already happening online, Instagram’s move is capitalizing on a fundamental change in how consumers purchase goods.

Revolutionary Type of Media

Instagram is bringing shopping closer to entertainment than any prior social media platform. With 60% of users logging in daily, Instagram is bringing window shopping back to the masses. Instagram is a  platform that connects users directly with some of the biggest brands in the world, and starting with the introduction of shopping tags, brands can now leverage this content connection to convert purchases and new customers. The shopping tag is set to revolutionize online shopping by significantly increasing the number of interactions that each item receives. As visual content is 40x more likely to receive shares than other post formats, the addition of shopping directly from this content could create unprecedented reach for retailers selling online. The Wall Street Journal found in 2016 alone, 30% of all online sales in Southeast Asia occurred through social networks.instagram

How Does Instagram Differentiate Itself?

Facebook and Line both responded to this surge in social network shopping by releasing their own shopping networks. However, the two social network giants lack a huge advantage that Instagram is leveraging: direct engagement with the content.

Instagram isn’t just adding a separate tab for shopping that requires users to leave their normal feed or navigate away from the brand’s profile, it’s creating a shopping experience that occurs within the user’s feed. This gives brands the opportunity to reach exponentially more customers with their storefronts. There’s no longer an issue of trying to convert profile viewers to site viewers: by adding shopping tags, profile and content viewers can shop without ever leaving the Instagram app. Over the last year alone, Smart Insight found that brands on Instagram saw an average of a 100% growth in their followers. Instagram is vital to market research, advertising, and now shopping. For retail brands to be successful, it’s increasingly crucial that they learn to utilize Instagram and cater their content to the changing online shopping landscape.

 

The Shopping Experience

Utilizing the Explore page, users will be able to shop for items in a more traditional manner if they so desire. Instagram is truly creating the best of all worlds for brands to advertise, promote, and sell directly from one page and content channel. With handles, hashtags, and locations all increasing post exposure by up to 79%, Instagram content continues to gain new avenues for discovery. Instagram and the new shopping tags are the only way a business can represent an online store, build a reputation, advertise new products, represent different locations, and generate sales all from one single piece of content.

Potential with Influencers

Outdoor enthusiasts?Check. Makeup artists? Check. Fashion idols? Check. Professional gamers? Check.

Users that specialize in a niche have amassed massive audiences with a single common interest. Instagram influencers present a massive opportunity to target advertising to one particular group with one particular interest. Along with Instagram’s own advertisement publisher that works wonders to target content, influencers are a way to add a unique personality to your advertisements, and potentially your storefront.

Influencers add yet another point of contact between brands and consumers. People interested enough to go out of their way to follow makeup enthusiasts are most likely interested enough to buy the products they are featuring on their pages. If Instagram opens up the shopping tag to anyone with a business page, influencers with millions of followers will be able to sell products specific to their niche directly from their page and content.instagram

Influencer Turned Shopping Hub

With Instagram potentially granting all business pages the ability to create a storefront, influencers and small-medium curated pages could become the “boutique” of the internet. Influencers already curate and effectively sell products from their page, and shopping tags are poised to massively improve their conversion rates. Imagine @kyliejenner, with 80.6 million followers allowing users to make purchases directly from her promotions. @danielwellington, a popular watch brand that typically receives about 50k likes per photo, is no stranger to Kylie Jenner’s Instagram page where her promotions often receive over 1 million likes. Influencers provide an opportunity for smaller brands to get exposed to significantly larger audiences and get important feedback about both who is buying their product and how they can more effectively advertise their product.

Instagram is Inherently Organized

With the ability for users to follow their favorite brands, TV shows, celebrities, and just about favorite everything, Instagram gives brands the ability to target content and succinctly measure response. Advertisements no longer need to focus on getting the user away from the page and onto the shopping website; instead, they can focus on selling the viewer right at the moment they look at the content. Instagram gives new brands the ability to advertise directly to the audience they know is interested in their product.

Mobile App Developers May Not Be Left Out

Depending on how Instagram rolls out its shopping buttons, app developers may be able to take advantage of this by advertising their products to the people that are interested. Fitness pages may be able to promote health tracking applications, gamers could share their new favorite mobile entertainment, and respected publications could easily advertise and sell their favorite mobile goods directly from their pages.

The full effect of Instagram’s shopping integration remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: the landscape of online shopping is changing, and the lines between content, storefront, brand, and consumer are only getting thinner.