Business development · 20 March 2018

What small business owners need to know about new Instagram Shopping tools

Instagram Shopping
Instagram Shopping has been available in the US since 2017

Small business owners will now be able to sell products directly through their Instagram business profile, as the platform rolls out its Instagram Shopping feature to UK users.

Business Advice was given an exclusive preview of the new tools at Instagram’s London HQ, and heard from UK brands invited to road-test the feature.

Instagram Shopping was introduced to US users in 2017, and the feature will offer UK brands a dynamic way to demonstrate products and direct users straight to checkout. In terms of functionality, Instagram Shopping will feel familiar to anyone with experience tagging other users in posts.

Catalogue information can be pulled from a linked Facebook account to synchronise with Instagram, and once Instagram Shopping is activated business owners will be able to upload photos as normal with an additional “tag products” function.

The photo sharing platform recently told Business Advice it expected UK companies to bank up to £6.7bn per year through its app by 2022, and the capabilities of Instagram Shopping will enable more entrepreneurs to tap into Instagram’s 23m-strong British audience.

Instagram will not take a cut from any sales made via Shopping, and Noelle Sadler, marketing vice president at US clothing brand Lulus, said conversion rates on the platform were reaching as high as 90 per cent.

Read more: Five Instagram fails to avoid as a new business owner

Commenting on the new tools, Jim Squires, Instagram’s head of business said Instagram Shopping had the makings of a vital sales partner for small companies.

“People come to Instagram every day to discover and buy products from their favourite businesses. We want that to be a seamless experience. Whether it’s a local artisan, florist or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier.”

Five tips for Instagram Shopping

During the preview, Amy Cole, Instagram’s head of brand development, gave entrepreneurs a five-point starter’s guide to getting the most out of Instagram Shopping.

  1. Generate

Create at least nine shopping posts to activate the “Shop” button on your business profile.

  1. Use tags

Use at least two tags in your posts to ensure higher engagement. However, be careful not to overcrowd posts with tags.

  1. Instagram Stories

Use the Stories function to show your audience how they can shop via your Instagram feed.

  1. Experiment

Try experimenting with different shopping formats – you can tag a single image or a carousel of images.

  1. Ensure clarity

Ensure tags touch the right products to provide a clear reference for shoppers.

“Instagram Shopping feels like the missing piece in our digital strategy.”

A beta phase gave three UK businesses the chance to test the feature’s functionality.

Amber Spencer-Holmes, head of marketing at Notting Hill boutique swimwear brand Heidi Klein, said Instagram Shopping was the next logical step in the platform’s offering.

“Instagram, both paid and organic, is a very central part of how we bring the Heidi Klein story to life, and Shopping feels like the missing piece in our digital strategy – in fact, it’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for!

“The interface is simple and intuitive and we’ve already seen encouraging customer engagement over the beta period. We’re super-excited to experiment further and Shopping will undoubtedly be a priority for us as we ramp up into the summer season.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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