Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram wants to make its app a shopping destination and its recent moves might give other platforms to be nervous.
The image-focused shopping app on Monday announced it is launching shopping in Stories to consumers globally and expanding access to all eligible businesses. The move comes only a few months after Instagram announced in June that it was testing the feature in Stories, which is the section of the app where users and brands can post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.
The shopping feature enables a retailer to add a sticker with a shopping bag icon to items that shoppers can buy within an image. A consumer can tap on icon to see more details about the product.
Stories has 400 million daily active users, the social network announced in June. That large, active user base is extremely appealing to lifestyle brands and retailers, says Omar Akhtar, an analyst at the consultancy Altimeter Group. “People love Stories because they have the veneer of spontaneity,” he says. “Because people already spend so much time in Stories, Instagram’s ability to commercialize the format should make everyone else concerned.”
In particular, Akhtar points to Pinterest and Google as the two companies that should be the most concerned. After all, Pinterest has long been the social platform where consumers curate the items they like and aspire to, and Google has been where consumers search for the items they’re looking to buy.
But shopping within the Stories format is much more in line with how consumers shop offline, he says. “This is a more intuitive, natural way of shopping,” Akhtar says. “I see an item that fits my style, then I look at Stories the next day and discover more items in line with my style.”
Instagram also rolled out a new, personalized channel in its Explore section of the app that’s dedicated to shopping. Topic channels, which the social network launched in June, allow a user to browse across her interests, such as food, art and architecture.
“Now, when you simply want to shop for fun, you’ll see a channel dedicated to Shopping posts from the brands you follow and brands you might like,” Instagram writes in a blog post.
The social network began rolling out the Shopping channel in Explore on Monday and will expand globally in the next few weeks.
The shopping-related announcements come only a few weeks after a report surfaced in The Verge that Instagram is working on a standalone shopping app. The app reportedly would 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. There’s good reason for the Facebook-owned social network’s interest in shopping: A large number of consumers are interacting with its shopping-related tools. For example, more than 90 million users tap to reveal tags in shopping posts on Instagram every month, Instagram reports.