Instagram Enhances Shopping Features – What Retailers Should Know

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By Published On: March 31, 20220 Comments

Social media is one of the most influential spots for shoppers to discover a new retailer. In fact, Instagram has confirmed that 1.6 million people currently tag at least one brand on average every week on the app. Now the platform is making it easier for brands to get exposure - but are there any downsides? We asked the experts.

Instagram is expanding its current product tagging to the entirety of users in the US. While this is specific to American consumers and businesses, it ultimately means that online retailers will have better access to shoppers, and vice versa.

So, What’s Happening?

Instagram has been plugging its Shopping feature for some time, but now the platform is making it even easier for businesses to get their product to a wider audience by allowing users to tag products in their feed.

In an update shared to the US market last week, Instagram will now allow regular users to tag products on their posts. This was initially only available to certain users, namely influencers, but it’s now being introduced to everyone… well almost everyone.

Currently, this is only available in the US, which isn’t a surprise. These new features are seldom available to worldwide users immediately, and are often soft-launched to US users before expanding globally.

Instagram’s updated product tagging feature | via Meta

The Pros & Cons for Retailers

According to Sam O’Brien – Chief Marketing Officer at affise, this is a huge move for retailers, even if it’s only available to US users. “The growth in Partner marketing surrounding this move is huge,” he shared. “The decision-makers at Meta are obviously investing in making their platform a better place for creators to come and monetize their content, and it’s hard to imagine this is not a direct response to the phenomenal growth in the popularity of Tik Tok, as up-till now they’d taken over as the platform for people trying to make money as social influencers and content creators.”

For businesses, especially those in US markets, they will now have a better chance at consumer exposure, but it may come at a cost. “From a business perspective, this now means brands operating within the US can easily gain higher levels of exposure, paying influencers for sales instead of arranging deals based on exposure,” O’Brien explained.

There are downsides, too, especially when it comes to brand messaging across the board. Particularly if a brand has fine-tuned its image as a sustainable retailer, only to be presented alongside businesses that do not share the same values.

“But, we suspect that protecting a brand will be a significant challenge,” said O’Brien.”For instance, if you are Patagonia, how can you ensure someone is not posting a picture of them wearing your jacket while driving a Hummer and sending out incorrect messaging to core demographics?”

“If not managed correctly this move from Instagram has the potential to put extra stress on brand managers to ensure they are still positioned as they want to be, and not as how others see them.”

But this is an issue that businesses can manage directly, as TechCrunch reports. With this new update, retailers will have access to edit and review the tags that they receive, meaning that they can curate what they want to show.

“Scored a new pair of earrings from a small business you love? Tag the product in your Feed post so your friends and followers can learn more about the earrings and shop them,” said Instagram in a statement. “People come to Instagram to share and discover trends and inspiration. Product tagging will make it possible for anyone to support their favourite small businesses, share how they styled their looks along with the products they used and more.”

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Heather Bone