It’s official: Instagram is now an eCommerce platform. With upwards of one billion active monthly users and reports suggesting that 83% of consumers explored brands they discovered on the app, the time is now for retailers to integrate their online store to Instagram’s many eCommerce features, especially Checkout.
Once upon a time in the not so distant past (roughly a year ago), Instagram made it possible for users to shop on the app. Brands could create posts acting as virtual showrooms that included a link to the brand’s purchasing site, which opened via in-app browser. Customers would then have to engage in a multi-step and multi-screen process in order to complete their transaction.
This convoluted process frustrated both shoppers and businesses, and proved to be rife with shopping cart abandonment. Recognizing the need for a change, Instagram leaned into its new eCommerce identity and rolled out an improved checkout experience earlier this spring.
Instagram’s Checkout. Picture taken from Instagram’s blog.
Instead of redirecting the shopper to the retailer’s website, customers can make purchases within the app. All it takes is a shopper attaching their name, credit card information, and shipping address to their Instagram account.
“Checkout enhances the shopping experience by making the purchase simple, convenient and secure,” said the Instagram team in a press release earlier this year. “People no longer have to navigate to the browser when they want to buy. And with their protected payment information in one place, they can shop their favorite brands without needing to log in and enter their information multiple times.”
So how can brands connect their online stores to Instagram and take full advantage of this exciting new sales channel? As an eCommerce design agency, we’ve put together a quick-and-easy guide to get your Instagram store up, running, and optimized in no time.
STEPS TO AN INSTA STORE
UPDATE TO THE LATEST VERSION OF INSTAGRAM
To set up your Instagram store, you must have the latest version of the application. Not sure if you do? Open Instagram, go to any brand’s account that has set up their store, and look for Instagram Shopping tags on their posts. If none appear, you need to update your version.
MAKE A BUSINESS ACCOUNT/PROFILE
Business accounts provide users access to features specific to accomplishing business goals. Helpful features for Shopping accounts include call-to-action-buttons and Instagram Insights. If you already have an account, you can easily switch your current profile over to a business profile. Go to settings, click account, hit “Switch to Business Account.”
CONNECT YOUR STORE TO FACEBOOK SHOP AND SYNC YOUR PRODUCT CATALOG
You must have a product catalog associated with a shop on Facebook (note: an Instagram account cannot exceed more than one association with a Facebook and product catalog). Instagram will transfer the product catalog from Facebook to your app. Only physical products are eligible for this shoppable feature, not services.
If you do not already have a Facebook Business or Shop account you must get one before completing step 3 and moving forward. It is also worth noting that both Shopify and BigCommerce are compatible with Instagram. (To learn more see Connecting To Your eCommerce Platform section). (Debating which eCommerce platform is right for you? Check out eCommerce web development company, Codal’s, blog post for some answers!).
After completing the previous steps, approval is needed from both Instagram and Facebook. Instagram will review the eligibility of your business account and once Facebook approves you for Facebook Shop, you’ll see a notification via your instagram account.
According to Instagram, over 130 million users click on Shopping tags each month. Select the photo you want to tag. Tap the products in the photo to tag them (similar to how you would tag a person in a post). Next, in the search bar type in the names of the products you’re tagging. Tag up to five products per post!
CONNECTING TO YOUR ECOMMERCE PLATFORM
Aside from needing a pre-existing Shopify account, before you can connect Shopify to Instagram, you must connect an Instagram Business account to your business’ Facebook Shop account (as described in this post).
Shopify account showcasing the Facebook and Instagram channels, as well as an option to add a product catalogue. (Shopify)
From your Shopify admin page, click the plus sign button adjacent to the “Sales Channel” heading. Next, select “Instagram” on the “Add sales channel” dialogue. Then click “Add channel”. Lastly, log into your Facebook account and authenticate your instagram account in the sales channel.
You can now manage your product catalog. While you’re inside your Instagram Business account, go to settings. Select Shopping and confirm your Facebook account. Choose the “yourstore.myshopify.com” option. Hit “Done.”
But what if you want to change the product description of one of the items in your catalog? In order to make changes to product description, including name, price, and/or product details, you must first edit the product listing on Shopify followed by publishing the changes to your Facebook sales channel.
There is currently no Instagram plugin for BigCommerce. Information regarding sales through Instagram will appear in the platform within the Facebook plugin. So in order to make use of Shopping in conjunction with BigCommerce you must follow the steps to connect Instagram and Facebook together (aforementioned in this post).
Note: BigCommerce requires that the Facebook page be owned by a Business Manager, which can then provide access to product catalogs that are either owned by or shared with the Business Manager.
Product catalog from Facebook shown in BigCommerce with corresponding Instagram Shopping post. (BigCommerce Help Center)
There is no additional cost or added fee from BigComemrce from enabling Shopping. However, depending on your current plan with the platform, your account may be upgraded automatically due to increased revenue and sales. For more information checkout the BigCommerce Pricing page.
OPTIMIZING YOUR NEW INSTAGRAM STORE
While a majority of the recent Instagram hype revolves around the new Checkout feature, the platform has other equally valuable features for connecting your online store to the app: Explore and Interactive Stories.
Instagram shoppers use the Explore feature of the app when they want to discover new accounts and content, which now includes direct access to stores. Explore acts as a personal shopper for users, bringing them directly to brands and products that match their preferences.
Instagram’s Explore function, as well as Shoppable post tags in the upper right hand corner of the posts. Picture taken from Instagram’s blog.
INTERACTIVE STORY ADS
As stated in a Forbes article, “…about 400 million users view Stories every day and one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from brands.” Let these stories serve as advertising, but more importantly let them showcase to your brand’s narrative. Allow the interactive elements, like polls and questions, to spark conversation amongster viewers/customers, as well as a means to connect directly with the brand. Interactive Story ads allow businesses to reach beyond their followers to a much wider audience on Instagram.
Examples of Interactive Story Ads courtesy of Instagram’s Business Blog.
INSTAGRAM IS JUST THE BEGINNING
Connecting your online store to Instagram offers both sales and branding opportunities for retailers. By leveraging this channel now, companies can position themselves for future success as Instagram continues to build upon its eCommerce features.
If you’re looking for other ways to optimize your eCommerce platform and improve your digital presence, contact Codal, an eCommerce website and design company!