Earlier this year, Instagram officially rolled out “shoppable” posts. This feature allows users to make mobile purchases without ever leaving the app. Brands and retailers are able to link particular items in their posts, similar to the tagging feature, which once clicked, redirect the user to the product’s shopping page. To exit from this shopping page, all a user has to do is click the “X” in the upper lefthand corner to return to exactly where they left off on their feed.
Instagram has developed into a place for inspiration in the fashion and art industries. The ever-evolving nature of social media helps progress trends and allows new ones to emerge simultaneously. Instagram is a place of product discovery and “#ootd” inspiration, as well as trend forecasting. Glossy notes that “80 percent of Instagram users follow at least one of the 15 million total brands active on the platform.” The Explore page aids new product discovery as it brings posts from unfollowed influencers and brands into the hands of a potential consumers. While it is saturated with content from various categories, it may be tailored towards fashion related goods based on a user’s profile and the accounts they already follow. This targeting is helpful for emerging brands looking to gain social following, with the goal of generating purchases.
Brands are taking advantage of the mobile framework and treating it as if it were a physical store. The image-first nature forces brands to constantly brand themselves with each and every post and story, providing room for creativity and allowing brands to distinctly market themselves within the platform, which may be different than their print or other media marketing strategies. Additionally, the mobile platform allows retailers to style clothing with multimedia elements, for example music and graphics, to create an experience of the goods and the brand that cannot be replicated in-store. The shoppable feature allows brands to tag multiple items at once, which can also allow them to appeal to different price points and trends, all in one post. These posts do not feature the “sponsored” or “learn more” markers, as they are not paid-for promoted posts, creating a non-intrusive, more organic way to advertise particular items.
Clothing has the power to be disseminated more rapidly with the direct message sharing feature, which is favorable for the brand as it increases the potential reach of its posts. Public profiles are subject to being featured on Explore pages, widening the reach of their posts drastically. Micro influencers also aid in pushing fashion trends through their unique styling and sharing via posts and Stories. They are successful at appealing to more niche personal styles, which arguably makes them more effective at driving traffic to one particular piece of tagged clothing. By featuring their outfits on their Instagram Stories, influencers showcase their clothing in a more natural, “IRL” manner, which propels consumers to visualize themselves in those very pieces. As opposed to campaign images from a highly stylized, professional photoshoot, viewing clothing on influencers in a “natural,” every-day manner may appeal more to a consumer seeking to keep up with the ever-evolving world of fast fashion.
Now that Instagram users have the ability to save posts, the “always on the go” demographic of e-commerce shoppers can browse Instagram endlessly, without the risk of losing track of a newly-discovered brand or coveted item amongst the hundreds of posts they encounter daily. The new post saving feature is a step-up from the linking feature, as it allows users to organize saved images and more easily return to them later. In terms of e-commerce, this tool is helpful in generating future sales, as “50 percent of [of mobile shoppers] take at least 24 hours to make a decision on a purchase on mobile.” Having the option to return to an item later eliminates the urgency and hesitancy many e-commerce shoppers feel while shopping on their mobile device.
Instagram is taking steps to become a friendlier platform for direct e-commerce. By incorporating multimedia elements in posts featuring new collections, brands are able to grab the attention of a potential consumer and direct them into making a purchase within a few clicks. Emerging brands understand the importance of social media image upkeep, and must enter the mobile, app-based market with strategic, unique branding and a marketing plan in order to remain distinct and appealing to trend-savvy consumers and Instagram users. For brands who solely exist online, Instagram’s evolving e-commerce features hint to a promising and profitable future, and for retailers with physical stores, the ability to “recreate” their physical stores digitally through the app aids in maintaining brand-relevance and awareness.
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