Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram is working on a standalone shopping app, according to a report in The Verge. The app, which may be called IG Shopping, may allow users to browse items from the retailers that they follow and purchase them directly within the app. Instagram declined to comment on the report.
Such an offering would likely be appealing to retailers that already advertise on Instagram, such as Indochino Inc., No. 552 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, says Kirtarath Dhillon, the retailer’s paid media manager.
“We would definitely be interested in the IG Shopping app given that we’ve already seen moderate success by implementing Instagram Shopping and adding a Shop section to our Facebook page,” he says.
However, until more details emerge, he isn’t certain that the format would work for Indochino because the retailer offers a highly personalized brand experience. “Our order process is tailored to each customer’s fabric choice and customization options that it may require some workarounds to make it fit our unique business model,” Dhillon says, noting that the retailer is following the news closely.
An Instagram shopping app would build off of the e-commerce-related moves the social network has been making for several years. Instagram began testing a shopping feature with 20 advertisers in November 2016 before rolling out Instagram Shopping more broadly in March 2017. The feature enables a retailer to tag various products within a post. When a user selects a tag, it opens a new, detailed view of the product. If the consumer taps the “Shop Now” link from the product details view, she’ll go directly to that product on the merchant’s website. The social network is also currently working with retailers such as Adidas AG, No. 61 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500, and Louis Vuitton, No. 131, to test a shopping feature within Instagram Stories, the section of the social network where users can share images and stories that disappear after 24 hours.
The move to launch a standalone shopping app would be the latest effort by Facebook to take a sizable step into e-commerce and build on the relationships that consumers and brands have already built; more than 25 million businesses have Instagram accounts and 2 million of them advertise on the platform, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July.
“With 1 billion active people on the platform, I think Instagram is definitely both a direct response opportunity but [also] an opportunity for discovery,” she said. “Part of it’s the format. The format is so visually appealing and people are telling stories with pictures, so we see both anecdotally and in the data that this is a great place for people to become aware of a product in the first place. And we see a lot of small businesses really able to do things on the platform.”