Retail in Asia

In Trends

Instagram launches new in-app shopping feature


Instagram is testing a new feature that will allow you to shop for products direct from the app, the company announced Tuesday.

From next week, 20 US-based retail brands — including Warby Parky, J.Crew, and Levi’s — will be trialing the feature, which overlays a “Tap here to view products” call-to-action button on their photos.

Users tapping on the button will see the names of the products in the image and their prices. Users can also click through to see a more detailed product description and, if they are interested, they can click “shop now” to be directed to the retailer’s website.

Jim Squires, Instagram’s director of market operations, said the new feature was launched to reflect the way people are already using the app.

katespade-2 shoppable instagram
Kate Spade’s shoppable Instagram.

He said internal research showed 50% of Instagram users follow a business on the app, while 60% say they have discovered new products and services on Instagram.


Squires said Instagram accepts that people aren’t necessarily visiting the app in a shopping mindset, but that they are using it for inspiration. And at the moment, when users are inspired, they are having to jump out of the app to search for the product on the retailer’s website. Instagram wants to make that process more seamless.

“It makes Instagram better for people because when you get inspired, it’s not a satisfying experience if you can’t take action and learn and explore further. It brings more depth and experience to what they are doing on the platform,” Squires said.

For now, the 20 test retailers won’t need to pay to use the shopping feature, but Instagram is exploring adding an advertising element to it — most likely letting retailers push their product photos to users who are not following their accounts.

Upcoming features

Other features to come later down the line will likely include a “save product for later” function and the expansion of the service to more brands in more geographies.

However, Instagram isn’t looking to take an affiliate fee from sales of products that can be directly attributed to the app’s shopping function — at least not yet.

Instagram parent company Facebook has also been ramping up its commerce efforts recently. It launched the Craiglist-like Marketplace feature last month, it introduced payment functionality into the Messenger app to allow retailers to sell items directly in chats, and it is experimenting with letting page owners tag products in photos.

All these efforts mark Facebook’s second big stab at commerce.