You will soon be able to shop on Instagram

Like something you see on your feed? Go ahead and buy it.

Meryl D'Souza November 9, 2016

Social media has evolved quite a bit this year. First, Facebook went live and made sure its live videos took precedence on our feeds.

Then Instagram ripped off Snapchat’s Stories and more recently we saw the image-sharing platform's plans to launch live videos. And now this.

Instagram is currently trying out a new feature in the United States that will allow users to shop for products directly from an image on the social media app. The Facebook-owned company – which announced the new feature in a blog post – has tied up with 20 US-based brands including Kate Spade, Warby Parker, J. Crew, Macy’s and Target to test the new feature.

How shopping on Instagram will work

As you’d expect from Instagram, the UI with regards to the shopping features is fairly straightforward. Shoppable posts will have a small, white icon in the bottom left corner of an image square. 

Once a user taps on the icon, a tag will appear on all shoppable products in the post along with prices. To avoid clutter, each photo is limited to accommodate a maximum of five products.

Once a user selects the tag of a specific product, a new detailed view of the product will open which will then lead to a 'Shop Now' button re-directing users to the product on the brand's website. 

Currently, the tests are limited to U.S.-based iPhone users. Should the move be a success, Instagram plans to expand to other countries, and to Alphabet Inc.’s Android operating system.

Why is Instagram doing this?

Since Instagram is not taking a cut of sale as of right now, the potential opportunity for businesses on the platform is huge. According to Instagram’s blog post: “More than 84 per cent of smartphone users in the U.S. browse, research, or compare products via a web browser or mobile app.”

According to another Instagram study: “60 per cent of Instagrammers say they learn about products and services on the app, while 75 per cent say they take actions like visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend after being influenced by a post on Instagram.”

This move lets those users stay on the app, which will improve engagement for the site and for brand pages. Eventually, Instagram wants to add a “Save” feature so users can bookmark product posts come back to them at a later date. Instagram believes users aren’t always ready to buy on impulse.

Instagram could soon turn into an e-commerce site.

That’s not to say this will be the end of the Instagram we know and love. Instagram has ensured that its user interface remains unaffected by its new feature.

You can bet Instagram will eventually take its cut from brands taking part in the shopping feature. Moreover, Instagram has confirmed that shoppable tags will eventually expand to video posts, photo carousels, and other countries.

It may still take a while for the update to reach Middle East shores, but heartening to know that we’ll soon be able to buy whatever the reigning celebrity style fad is just by looking through our Instagram feed. These $900 ripped jeans and T-Rex jumpers will be a great place to start.