Instagram has recently launched ecommerce capabilities on its platform, but will it change how shoppers and retailers use social media?

We live in an on-demand economy, where consumers have grown accustomed to instant gratification when it comes to meeting their wants and needs.

Nowhere is this more true than retail, where one-hour delivery, one-click checkout and mobile access have become investment priorities for retailers, brands, and third-party marketplaces alike.

Furthermore, social media platforms are breaking new ground for in-context commerce, empowering consumers to make purchase decisions at the moment of discovery.

From discovery to purchase

Instagram is upping its e-commerce options

Instagram is upping its e-commerce options

Instagram is upping its e-commerce options

Most recently, Instagram announced it is testing a new feature which will allow brands to display important product information directly on their Instagram posts, making it easier for consumers to discover and learn more about the items that most interest them.

This added functionality will prevent Instagram users from manually searching for additional information (such as price and detailed product descriptions), but will also bring value to brands, retailers, and influencers who use the platform as a strategic marketing and sales tool.

Now, brands and retailers will be able to capture – and hold onto – users’ attentions right at their point of discovery.

“Instagram is being strategic with slow integration of commerce capabilities into its platform”

Once an Instagram shopper hits the ‘Shop Now’ link, they will be led directly to that product on the business’ website, allowing them to immediately purchase exactly what they’re looking for.

Instagram’s new functionality indicates the implementation of future development of integrated commerce capabilities within the platform.

Testing the waters

The buy-button concept has been executed by industry pioneers to varying degrees of success, with major players such as Amazon and Twitter sticking their hands in the cookie jar.

Roadblocks with consistent functionality and consumer acceptance have prevented contextual commerce from gaining widespread adoption, and retailers are hesitant to invest until they see a true return on investment.

“Platform and select retail partners are accelerating the product discovery process through deeper access to information”

As a result, Instagram is being strategic with slow integration of commerce capabilities into its platform.

Rather than jumping head first into buy-button technology, the platform and select retail partners are accelerating the product discovery process through deeper access to information.

Although this type of commerce-able content is just the tip of the iceberg.

The future of contextual commerce is not just being able to buy at the moment of inspiration, but empowering consumers to collect items they are interested in across the web and then easily purchase those products when it’s most convenient.

This open-source solution will revolutionise how consumers transact online.

But as Instagram ups its ante in the game of commerce, I expect more social media and content-producing platforms will follow suit.

Once consumers become comfortable with contextual commerce, retailers will be able to capitalise on this technology to open new channels of revenue and create an additional touch point for customer engagement.

  • Brian Marvin is co-founder and chief operating officer of Bringhub