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Instagram’s shopping feature is looking to be ‘the new mall’

As fashion and beauty turns to tech to stay afloat during the Coronavirus pandemic, online-platform shopping features are set to become ‘the new mall.’

Though the thought of returning to a mall in the middle of a global pandemic might seem unusual to most, many are finding themselves longing for the familiar hustle and bustle of weaving through hordes of people in search of a single t-shirt. However, if you – like me – have grown tired of the crowds and the knowledge that it’s never the ‘in-and-out’ job you promised yourself it’d be, then you’re in luck because Instagram’s new shopping feature means you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home again.

‘Instagram is the new mall,’ says co-founder of media company Questus, Jeff Rosenblum. ‘You can interact with your friends; you can interact with brands.’ As part of the social media giant’s efforts to encourage users to shop within the app, Instagram has introduced an entire page dedicated to brand stores, curated product collections, and items personalised to each user’s following.

Originally announced in May, Instagram is currently testing out the feature, replacing the heart-shaped activity button on the main navigation bar with the shopping tab. According to the company, users can filter the brands they follow by category, dividing their options into Clothing, Beauty, and Accessory sections (to name a few examples).

‘The value of this feature is that it removes friction in the buying journey,’ adds Rosenblum. ‘Any time you can remove any friction, it’s going to generate probably the strongest return on investment that a brand can find. Just being able to get people when they’re ready to buy is so powerful.’

Showcasing a range of buyable items within a single ‘explore’ feed, these updates are bound to have a significant impact on user behaviour, as well as future buying processes. Eagerly welcomed by the big names in fashion and beauty including Estée Lauder Companies, L’Oréal Group, and LVMH, it certainly has the potential to make Instagram the go-to online shopping destination.

And, with more of us looking to shop online during lockdown, the arrival of this new option is proving invaluable for Instagram marketers as they re-think their approach to targeting consumers.

‘Instagram shopping is reaffirming the idea that social commerce is where the world is moving,’ says Alex Barinka, head of external affairs at Verishop. ‘We feel like we need to be there as part of our overall marketing mix,’ she adds.

Additionally offering curated collections via its @shop account, Instagram is heavily appealing to a growing number of brands who view this as a unique way to sell products.

Instagram Shop in Explore

Embracing the Insta-exclusive ‘drops’ feature, these brands have an opportunity to create alerts for launches that automatically appear to followers as notifications. Considering that Instagram already has the audience and an aspirational user base of people striving to stay connected with the latest trends, this could be incredibly beneficial for all those bold enough to get involved. ‘Nobody knows what the future of shopping looks like until we’re a few months or years into it, but I would certainly say, tap into it; there’s very little downside risk,’ says Rosenblum.

Brands, for the time being, are only testing the Instagram shopping waters in the hope that it emerges as the next hot fashion and beauty purchasing powerhouse… but you know what? I have a feeling it just might.


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