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Instagram Adds Shopping Tags to Boost Product Discovery

Instagram is all set to step up its e-commerce game with the introduction of shoppable tags in photos. After the success of Pinterest’s ‘buyable pin’, Instagram is following suit by enabling retailers to tag their products in displayed images. Hitting “Tap to view products” reveals more information on an in-app details page, including a product’s price, description, and additional photos. Tapping “Shop Now” brings the user to the retailer’s website to purchase the item.

Instagram has currently partnered with 20 brands to test the shoppable photo tags with iOS users in the US.

It’s a simple yet effective way to encourage more shopping behavior on the app, and is very similar to how Pinterest is going about boosting product discovery options on its platform, with its visual search functionality – although that works based on image recognition and visual matching and not with brands directly.

The scope of Instagram’s tool is less ambitious, at least at this stage, and more individually focused. The selected partners need to work with Instagram’s team to upload the relevant images, but Instagram is looking to expand the feature more widely after the initial tests are done.

Another area where Instagram isn’t in line with Pinterest is in terms of on-platform purchases. Instagram says that it’s not looking to enable in-app buying yet, which Pinterest is doing with its Buyable pins. This is another area that Instagram may build upon in future, but at present, the platform is only focused on enhancing the advertiser experience.

According to Tech Crunch, “Instagram won’t take a cut of purchases, and instead plans to monetize the product by later allowing brands to pay to show their shoppable photos to people who don’t follow.”

Not only does this feature make it easier for users to seek out the product they want to purchase, it also gets around the awkward limited use of links. Currently, the only way to publish a clickable link on Instagram is via the profile which can be somewhat frustrating. Instead of having to point users to the 'link in bio' note to let them get access to more information about a product, this new feature will make the process much less clunky.

Research conducted by Instagram has concluded that 60% of Instagrammers learn about products and services on the app, while 75% take actions like visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend after being influenced by a post on Instagram. So, this shift towards e-commerce options seems like a sensible move for the social media platform at this stage.

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