If Instagram is your preferred shopping tool these days, good news: The photo-sharing app just made it a lot easier to buy the items you see in your feed. With Instagram’s new checkout feature, you can shop the items highlighted in specific posts from directly within Instagram itself — no need to follow any links to external sites. Announced on Tuesday on Instagram’s business blog, the feature will initially be limited to a small collection of major brands; if it’s successful, though, we’ll likely see broader implementation of the feature for brands both big and small in the not-too-distant future. Checkout will be rolled out gradually over the next few weeks to U.S.-based mobile users, according to Digiday.
Shopping tags first arrived on Instagram as a limited test in 2016. Previously, the only way for Instagrammers to buy the items featured in specific posts was to follow a proverbial trail of breadcrumbs — if you saw something you liked, you all you could do was hope the ‘grammer who had posted it had also identified the item in question, tagged the brand’s or designer’s account, or left a link in the caption. The shopping tags, however, allowed brands to display more information about an item behind a “tap to view products” button, including more pictures, pricing information, and a “shop now” button, which would open up your browser and take you to exactly where you could buy it. The feature was a popular one; indeed, shopping tags expanded to Instagram Stories in 2018, while at the same time a full Shopping channel arrived on the Instagram Explore feature replete with personalized recommendations for each user.
But having to navigate to an external site to make your purchases was still seen as too cumbersome by many users — an issue that Instagram Checkout hopes to mitigate. Now, beginning with a set number of brands, an item’s product page within the app will include a “Checkout on Instagram” button. When you tap that button, you’ll be taken directly to a checkout page where you can complete your purchase securely — all without leaving Instagram itself. When you check out, you’ll be asked to enter an email address and your delivery information, as well as to provide either credit card details or access to a PayPal account. BuzzFeed News reports that Instagram will save your payment info for future orders; however, the outlet also notes that “you can add a PIN for purchases to make your Instagram account more secure” if you like.
Initially, payment options will include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and PayPal; however, if and when the option expands, notes Instagram, “businesses will be able to integrate directly or work with partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CommerceHub, and more in the future.” Additionally, “payments will be processed in partnership with PayPal,” according to the blog post announcing the feature.
The brands which will be available for purchase directly within Instagram in the coming weeks cover a mix of high-end and affordable options; the full list includes Revolve, Nike, Burberry, Adidas, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Balmain, ColourPop, Dior, Huda Beauty, H&M, KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, NARS, NYX Cosmetics, Oscar de la Renta, Outdoor Voices, Ouai Hair, Prada, Uniqlo, Warby Parker, and Zara. You’ll notice that they’re all either beauty or fashion brands; what’s more, a solid number of them are what I might call viral — among them Outdoor Voices (home of those colorblocked leggings that have been so popular over the past few years), ColourPop (beloved for their playful aesthetic and affordable prices), and Kylie Cosmetics (remember when Kylie Jenner could never keep those Lip Kits of hers in stock?). Whether they’ve had a truly viral moment or not, though, each and every one of the brands has had a consistently strong Instagram presence, both on their own pages and on the pages of celebrities and social media influencers.
And of course, there’s room to grow; the checkout feature is, as Instagram notes in their announcement, “just one part of our long-term investment in shopping.” More brands will undoubtedly arrive later on; you can even throw your own brand into the ring for consideration if you like by submitting the information included in this form here. Note, though, that according to Digiday, Instagram “will charge a ‘small fee’ to businesses selling through the platform to cover things like credit card processing costs “and other transaction-related expenses” — at least for now — so as far as sellers go, the checkout feature is probably more useful to larger brands at the present.
Check out more details via Instagram’s announcement. Happy shopping!