Launched today, Instagram has been working with local brands Myer, Country Road and PepperMayo to trial the feature, which enables customers to purchase products directly off the social platform.
Businesses will set-up product catalogues through Instagram parent Facebook’s business manager, which they will then be able to add to Instagram posts using a tag feature.
Country Road has taken things a step further and will integrate the product catalogue with its own real-time inventory information so that the shopping catalogue updates dynamically and reflects current stock availability.
Paul Conti, Country Road’s marketing manager for channels, said that the launch has been a long time coming and will deliver a much easier way to provide customers with a more frictionless experience.
“[Customers] are literally already asking for exactly this,” he told Inside Retail.
“It takes behaviour customers are already doing naturally and just completely removes the friction.”
Country Road has been a long-term partner for Facebook in Australia and has worked with Instagram on a variety of product tests in the last few years.
Instagram shopping is not a paid advertising feature, and the platform will not be charging a commission on items sold to customers who have used the service.
Conti told reporters at a launch event on Tuesday that mobile commerce is “far and away” its largest online channel, accounting for 51 per cent of total e-commerce sales in a single week recently.
That’s a multi-million-dollar business for the apparel and accessories retailer, which is now doing as much as 23 per cent of its total sales online.
But Conti said Country Road, like many other retailers, has been focusing on breaking down the barriers between its online and offline business in recent years, and that Instagram shopping will round-out that picture for the business.
“We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring customers can shop the way they want across channels and Instagram basically now gets him or her to the product stage where they have the option to do whatever they want to do,” he said.
He also believes shopping will bolster Country Road’s organic marketing returns, enabling it to balance paid campaigns with more general lifestyle communication and brand-building on the platform.
“We can have a beautiful Instagram feed that’s full of lifestyle images that tell the Country Road story, but if someone sees something they like they can buy it,” he explained.
Anna Delaney, Myer’s national manager of social media and digital partnerships, said in an Instagram media statement that the department store will be using shopping to drive action from customers in a user-friendly way.
“Instagram is an important platform for our customers, which makes it an important platform for Myer,” she said. “For Myer, the launch of Instagram Shopping means we will be able to inspire consumers and drive action with a single piece of Instagram content in a way that is user friendly.”
Online has been a bright spot for Myer over the last few years while it is struggling to gain traction with customers in most other areas of its business.
Facebook and Instagram Australia’s group industry director Naomi Shepherd said its goal was to provide businesses with a way to reach customers in a place where they’re already receptive to new experiences.
“People come to Instagram every day to discover and buy products from their favorite businesses. We want that to be a seamless experience. Whether it’s a local artisan, florist or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier,” she said.
There is still room for improvement though, with post scheduling still not available through Instagram itself the new shopping service will require employees to manually attend to the platform at odd hours.
“They need to let us be able to schedule posts as a business,” Conti said. “I know Facebook as a company are all about work life balance, and so are we at Country Road.”
Shopping has also launched in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK today.