For anyone that still doubts that Instagram is trying to become the next marketplace, this week the social media platform added another new feature to bring shopping and social media closer together.
The latest addition by Instagram is a feature that uses stickers with a shopping bag icon.
When a user clicks on the shopping bag icon, they are offered more details about the product shown and then have the option to follow a link to purchase the item from the Instagram account user’s store.
This new sticker feature further advances Instagram as a search and discovery tool for eCommerce merchants, creating a de facto marketplace search experience for shoppers.
“As platforms like Instagram continue to add commerce functionality, we’re seeing the line between traditional social network and pure marketplace blur.
Dynamic features like Instagram’s new shoppable stickers in Stories represent a great example because they highlight merchants’ ability to deliver tailored content and personalized eCommerce experiences that enhance consumers’ time spent interacting with brands wherever that engagement is organically occurring.
As a result, the distinction between social and marketplace effectively becomes moot, as one platform can serve both purposes.”
Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer at BigCommerce
Instead of boring product images, digital marketers can bring life to products by placing them into action shots, fashion shoots, and other lifestyle situations.
Instagram said that the sticker feature will first show up on Instagram accounts from select lifestyle brands such as Adidas, Aritzia, and Louis Vuitton.
Product Tagging Not a New Idea – But New to social media
Some readers may remember two stories on our site about similar features being introduced by eBay and Amazon.
In eBay’s case, the marketplace is testing a linking feature with publishing company Mashable that places tags on blog post images, which then link back to an eBay listing.
Amazon Spark, its social media style feature in its IOS and Android apps is similar to Instagram’s new stickers. It places stickers (or tags) on lifestyle images that link the shopper from the image to the Amazon product page.
These tag like links on images are great for fashion and style product categories where items can be brought to life in a contextual setting.
We looked for real-world examples from the companies mentioned by Instagram but found very little that looked like the official screenshot provided by them (see banner image).
Also, from the company’s announcement, it is not entirely clear if marketers can tag multiple items on an image or just one item.
In both the eBay and Amazon tag implementations, multiple items can be tagged on a single image and linked to a shopping page.
In an apparent strategy to separate the new stickers feature form shoppable posts, Instagram is launching stickers only in Instagram Stories feature.
This appears to restrict the new feature to a time limit as Instagram Stories have a lifespan of 24 hours.
The social media platform does have a Story Highlights feature to keep stories alive past the 24 hours time limit, but again there is no information from Instagram if that would also apply to stickers.
Early Days = “Testing Phase”
As the feature is being rolled out, it does appear to follow a similar launch pattern as Instagram’s shoppable posts. It may even go through various implementations and improvements as the company learns more about how users interact with it.
Shoppable posts were first only available to select brands. Then Instagram opened it to select eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce but limited the feature to U.S. merchants.
Eventually, Instagram included more eCommerce platforms and opened the shoppable posts feature to a wider global audience.
In the long run, this feature should bring exciting marketing possibilities to small business online retailers. The implied time limit could bring an immediacy to marketing campaigns (think FoMO marketing) making it ideal for product launches or limited edition product promotions.
With over 300 million daily active users, Instagram is already larger than eBay, Amazon, or Etsy. It seems the Facebook-owned social media platform is quietly building a marketplace without calling itself a marketplace.
What do you think about Instagram adding more features that make it appear to become a marketplace? Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.