Hands On with Instagram shopping

As the world of social media and shopping collides, Instagram comes out on top with its in-app shopping feature where retailers have created a visual shopfront. The Retail Gazette takes a closer look.



If you haven’t heard of Instagram by now, then you could be lying to yourself. The social media app has become a hugely popular photo and video sharing platform, and today it boasts around 800 million users worldwide.

It was founded in 2010, but things really took off the app after 2012 when Facebook acquired it. Among its many high-profile users include the Kardashian sisters – especially Kylie Jenner – as well as singers Rihanna, Beyonce, Ariana Granda and Selena Gomez and even hip-hop moguls like DJ Khaled. It is also known for its diverse list of “influencers” across various sectors, and fashion influencers by far make up the biggest group.

Advertisers have flocked to Instagram since fashion influencers are keen to promote their shopping hauls through the app. While it’s been around for a few months now, the app’s shoppable photo feature provides a natural platform for global retailers such as Nike, Burberry and Gucci to grow their businesses via an immersive storefront.

Not only does Instagram provide the perfect platform for branded advertising, its shopping feature also delivers a great simplicity for users. A few clicks and users have already bagged their favourite items. We take a hands on approach with shopping on Instagram.


Once you’re on Instagram, you can search for your favourite fashion retailer or brand. When you find it, make sure to see if their images show a shopping bag icon in the right-hand corner. Usually, if a model is wearing an outfit, you’d be able to shop directly once you click on that photo.

When you click on the chosen image, you’ll find the caption alongside the shopping bag icon that says “tap to view products”. You’ll also see that the items which are for sale will be dotted for clarity.

Once you’ve tapped on the dots, you’ll find a description of the products, along with the price tag.

When you select your item of choice, you’re automatically directed to a different page where you learn the name of the product along with a description and image.

When you click on “view on website”, you’re automatically redirected to the retailer’s official website where you can view the item from different angles.

If you then scroll down, you’ll be able to purchase the product by adding it to your bag.

Instagram is also known for its 24-hour story feature, and retailers can take advantage of this by advertising their products through that. This gives them an advantage as ordinary photo or video posts can disappear down the users’ timeline after a while. In contrast, Instagram stories remain at the top of the page where users can easily find it.

Another way in which Instagram promotes its shopping experience is by allowing retailers to post their website link on their story, which allows users to be automatically directed to the official online store by simply clicking or swiping up on the “see more” arrow at the bottom of the screen. This shopping experience makes also full use of the mobile screen, whereas normal photo posts are limited to a set image placeholder.












While Instagram has historically been a photo-centric social media app, in recent years it has seen numerous updates and reboots and this shopping experience is one of the latest.

The app itself is simple to use and is one of the reasons why it has proved so popular among millions of users. However, its shopping feature is not as well-known as it should be but this could well be because its user base is still growing.

The in-app shopping feature is simplistic as it’s click-after-click and then the job is done. The only thing the user has to do is once they’ve come across an item they’ve liked, they must follow the on-screen instructions.

The feature can also be quite useful, especially if the shopper is in a rush during the crazy sales season.

Nowadays, the in-app shopping feature can benefit retailers as well as Instagram itself, especially when digital natives such as millennials can easily navigate their way through it, hence providing a boost in sales.


Instagram’s shopping feature is the type of resource that can be used by almost anyone. It’s super simple to shop through the app because it provides straightforward instructions and doesn’t take long at all to shop for a product.

However, users may not be able to precisely search for their item of choice, and retailers are in turn presented with the challenge of posting as many items as possible for sale on their Instagram page.

Moreover, the app’s shopping feature has supported retailers’ aims to grow traffic and reach a much larger audience, as many users who have never shopped at a particular retailer may come across a product of theirs on Instagram’s “Explore” page. This may prompt them to make a spontaneous purchase for that product through the app.

If you’re a casual type of shopper who isn’t always looking for specific products, then Instagram shopping would be perfect for you. But if you’re the kind who wants a specific item, searching through Instagram’s fashion pages may be rather tedious or daunting and you could be better off trying Google first.

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  1. This is def. the way a large percentage of shopping will be done in future. Especially in relation to influencer marketing – such shopping experience creates a very ORGANIC user experience and I think conversion rates for people who have REAL influence and followers will be crazy high.


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