Instagram is today's modern catalog. You find your favorite brands presenting themselves with beautiful imagery or behind-the-scenes video clips that take you on a journey. This catalog also presents new brands that find you with more relevant information than their print predecessor ever could. But the thing that makes this experience more powerful than a catalog is the ability to actually purchase the products that excite you.
The ability to discover and then consume makes it a powerful platform for brands and shoppers alike. Instagram’s visual discovery focus makes it a great opportunity for an immersive and comprehensive shopping experience. When you think of the organic shopping opportunities that exist today and the rise of the Stories format, you can see the direction Instagram is headed. The future of social commerce is on Instagram. Currently, Instagram is very popular when it comes to fashion, food and alcohol, as well as travel destinations.
In the past, many fashion companies have become successful by using Instagram to promote their products. When it comes to food posts, it's more challenging because many consumers don’t shop by brand. On the other hand, a perfect instance for social e-commerce is alcohol because it’s heavily brand-driven and consumers already post a large amount of content regarding what they drink.
Instagram continues to innovate and develop new features to keep up with other social platforms in the current competitive landscape. Understanding its user base, Instagram has significantly stepped up its e-commerce game by continuing to build out its shopping features. Specifically, users are able to shop videos that appear in their feed and save certain items to their shopping collection. These features have fundamentally transformed the way e-commerce brands use the platform. As long as products continue to be of high quality and ads remain relevant, Instagram the future of e-commerce.
Instagram was previously used by brands as a destination to simply promote products. Brands would direct users to a link in their bio to take them to a shopping page and eventually down the funnel to a cart. But now, consumers are able to find products via Instagram Stories, giving them a simpler way to shop. Currently, Stories are a destination for over 400 million accounts globally, and they provide consumers with quick access to product information and, more importantly, easy shopping journeys.
Outside of seamless shopping experiences within the app, it will be interesting to see if consumers are able to build a curated list of desired brands in order to make their shopping experiences on Instagram more efficient. Moving forward, the way in which the platform allows everyone to engage with friends in the context of shopping should be a key component of how this experience scales.
As brands build products and platforms, they often look at how consumers engage with these tools. In the case of Instagram, it's clear from the data that the social platform is observing that brands and retailers have embraced it. The move to shopping appears to be seamless because Instagram is doing a great job understanding consumer behavior and ensuring its platform is developed in a way that doesn't disrupt the overall customer experience.
With advancements in technology including security, mobility, data collection and analytics, this is the year for brands to take the plunge and make social commerce a part of their go-forward strategies. Embracing tools including Instagram’s shoppable features is just the first step.
Devaraj Southworth is CEO of Thirstie, an enterprise platform that offers e-commerce solutions for liquor brands.