Instagram is hoping that if a picture says a thousand words, it will fill up 600 million shopping carts. That’s why the social platform is experimenting with new ways to convert inspiration into sales.
One way is the “Shop Now” button that takes users to a brand’s website. Apparel, jewelry and fashion brands in the US are participating in the Instagram test to gauge user interest and potential ROI.
Instagram is also experimenting with a tool that tags products that same way one might tag a friend. Twenty brand partners have signed on to try the new feature, including JackThreads, Warby Parker, Kate Spade and J. Crew.
Call to action is the next natural step for the Facebook-owned site, especially since users already use Instagram as inspiration for purchases. Of the 13 million total interactions during New York Fashion Week in 2016, 97 percent took place on Instagram, according to a report by L2.
According to recent research from fashion brand Dana Rebecca Designs, 72 percent of Instagram users say they have made a fashion- or beauty-related purchase after seeing a product on the social network. Forty percent of surveyed users also say Instagram was the social media platform that most impacted their shopping habits.
Retailers turn to Instagram not only to inspire but to look for inspiration, themselves—noting and reacting to trends as they happen.
“Savvy retailers look at hashtags to understand street style and what’s cool right now,” Apu Gupta, CEO of visual commerce platform Curalate, told Digiday. “It’s not about your own products—it’s about gaining insight into what people are wearing and how they wear them.”
This kind of symbiotic relationship between brands and users helps keep the inspiration flowing without being disruptive to the natural flow of discovery.
Eighty percent of all Instagram users follow at least one brand on the platform and 41 percent either follow or would follow brands to take advantage of perks and giveaways, says Instagram analytics platform Iconosquare.
While fashion and beauty are natural fits for a visually-driven social network, other brands take advantage of Instagram’s engaged users in creative ways. Sparkling water brand LaCroix appeals to millennials through its easy-going brand message and partners with influencers to spread the word.
In fact, influencer marketing on the platform is booming. Estimates place this year’s Instagram influencer market at just over $1 billion. At the current growth rate, the platform could reach $2 billion by 2019.
Juniper Research predicts that over two billion mobile phone or tablet users will make some sort of mobile commerce transaction by the end of 2017 and over three billion by the year 2021. Studies have shown that more than half of consumers research purchases online before committing and for users on Instagram, seeing is believing.
“Our partnership with Instagram has been very successful,” says Mary Beech, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Kate Spade New York. “Traditionally, our customer had turned to Instagram for inspiration, and we’re seeing that she’s reacting positively to the new shopping experience, which allows her to seamlessly tap and shop the product—going from inspiration to information to purchase in just a few steps—we’re excited to see where the feature continues to take us.”