Instagram has come a long way since its $1 billion acquisition by Facebook nearly six years ago. No longer is it a funky photo-sharing app for friends: It now offers video, advertisers are courted en masse, and it has become a major platform for brand and celebrities.
But Instagram is also emerging as a significant ecommerce tool for retailers around the world. Way back in November 2016, Instagram started testing a new “shoppable post” feature that allowed a handful of businesses to feature product photos tagged with captions such as pricing, descriptions, and links to purchase the product directly.
Starting from today, merchants in the U.K., Canada, Brazil, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain will be able to promote their goods through Instagram photos. While this will likely be embraced by local retailers within each market, it also opens things up to global retailers and ecommerce platforms that have hitherto been restricted to selling their wares through Instagram in the U.S.
Shopify, for example, has supported shopping on Instagram since October, but now the 500,000-plus merchants who sell through its platform will be able to target Instagrammers across North America, Europe, and Latin America.
“Shoppers around the world increasingly demand unique experiences that shorten the path to purchase, and the future of commerce will need to meet and exceed these evolving demands,” noted Shopify VP for product Satish Kanwar. “We continue to partner and experiment with leading social platforms to support our merchants in reaching their customers wherever they are.”
“We know that people come to Instagram to be inspired and discover new products from businesses they love, and we want them to easily be able to learn more, consider, and ultimately purchase those products,” added Susan Rose, director of product marketing at Instagram.
Fellow photo-centric social network Pinterest has for a number of years offered buyable pins, which are effectively the same thing as Instagram’s shoppable buttons.