Instagram Shopping Will Take over E-Commerce Faster Than You Think
How business owners should be preparing for a new era of online selling.
The importance of social media for businesses has always been a controversial subject. Many think the ROI is too small and the effort is better spent somewhere else.
Of course, the matter isn’t black and white. It depends on what you’re selling, and how you approach it.
Nevertheless, it’s a valid point. Instagram and other social media are certainly not worth it for all businesses. I don’t see a corporate law firm ever needing an Instagram strategy.
But even Instagram suitable e-commerce businesses, such as clothing and cosmetics brands, could’ve been better off focusing their efforts on multiple other things than social media for the last ten years.
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who makes part of his living by helping businesses grow and increase revenue with Instagram, I know that with the proper approach the platform can be a huge asset.
The problem is that it’s really easy to spend a lot of time on Instagram, and still get it wrong. Other avenues are usually more straight-forward.
Properly integrated social commerce changes the game. An Instagram account will soon be the heart of a lifestyle brand.
The major part of their revenue will come from Instagram, and no longer can the platform be an afterthought for businesses.
Instagram Offers Convenience and Consistency Websites Simply Cannot Compete With
Instagram introduced its checkout feature in March of 2019, which allows people to buy products they see on Instagram without leaving the app.
It has been in closed beta ever since and is currently only available for people in the US. There’s a little under 30 businesses taking part in the beta testing. Instagram is, understandably, taking its time to get it right, because they know the crazy potential of shopping on their platform.
Two key things make it a game-changer:
Saved shipping and payment info — no more writing your address and credit card number.
A consistent shopping experience — choosing color, size, quantity, reading the product description, and adding to cart will be second nature to you, no matter what brand you buy from.
Every business will essentially be able to offer a perfectly optimized buying experience to their customers — and with Instagram’s data and resources, ‘perfectly optimized’ won’t be far from the truth.
When more and more businesses upload their entire product catalog to Instagram, it won’t take long before customers will be used to the level of shopping convenience. Old E-Commerce websites will work as secondary options for a few years, and then eventually die out.
Now is the time to prepare for what’s coming.
Betting Big on Your Instagram Game
It’s still unclear when more businesses and countries will become eligible to use Instagram Checkout.
In the meantime, there are a handful of things E-Commerce business owners can do to get prepared for the new era of online selling.
Obviously start with uploading your product catalog and sign up for Instagram Shopping, if you for some reason haven’t already done that. Currently, the purchases need to go through your website, so the convenience isn’t there yet, but at the very least you’ll get to practice selling on social media.
Then move on to the following things. This is all useful stuff even today — but soon the importance will be tenfold.
Grow a Loyal Audience
We all know what happened with Facebook Pages. Businesses spent time and money on building huge followings, but Facebook pulled the rug from under them and killed organic reach. Facebook became pay to play.
I strongly doubt the same thing is going to happen here. This time around, Instagram is getting their cut from your sales, so they’re not going to handicap your ability to reach your customers.
Sure, an abundance of product posts might cause the need for some kind of changes to the platform, and paid ads will always be around to boost your posts, but a large and engaging audience will absolutely be valuable.
The best way to grow an audience like that is to be useful. Focus on the foundation of your account, and not the growth hacks.
Learn the game of Instagram and establish a real connection with your customers.
Put Resources into Product Photography
Social commerce makes product photography more important than ever.
Images and product descriptions will be the only things to stand out with — or screw up — in your shop. These of course matter on websites today, so if you’ve been pushing this project back for a while, now is the time to act on it.
In addition to the main product images, you want real-world photos and videos of your products being used. These are the posts you’re going to be selling with.
Learn what works now, so that when the in-app shopping comes, you have tested content ready.
Build and Nurture Relationships with Influencers
Instagram is already testing the feature of influencers tagging and selling products in their posts, and shoppable posts will make influencer marketing much more effective.
As much power influencer marketing has today, it hasn’t reached its full potential. Influencers are mostly native to Instagram, but Instagram is not a good sales platform today.
When that changes, influencers could become the retailers of the future.
Even if you haven’t seen good results from influencers yet, that might change with shoppable posts. Build those relationships now, so that you can win big later.
Don’t Take My Word for It
All of this is of course speculation. I don’t have a crystal ball, and much wiser people have been wrong about their predictions. Maybe Instagram Shopping fails miserably, and something new takes over.
Do your own research. At the very least I think this is something you should follow closely if you have an E-Commerce business.
One thing is for sure, though: The ones who bet on an uncertain future, and happen to get it right — they win big.