Since launching in 2010, Instagram has evolved from a simple photo and video sharing app into a robust social commerce channel, continuously releasing new business-friendly features.
In 2018, Instagram launched its enhanced shopping solution which offers features such as shopping stickers in Stories, a shopping channel in Explore, a redesign of the shop tab on business profiles, and the option for brands to tag specific products in their shopping posts.
Now, the platform’s 130 million users who tap those product tags on shopping posts can quickly and easily buy the products without having to navigate away from the app, thanks to Instagram Checkout.
What is Instagram Checkout?
Brand new, the Checkout feature enhances the shopping experience for consumers by allowing them to purchase products in the app simply, conveniently, and securely:
As of this article’s publishing in May 2019, Checkout is still in closed beta and only available in the United States, but has already undergone changes.
How does the Instagram Checkout feature work?
Product tags appear on feed posts, Stories, and Explore content, similar to this Michael Kors example:
Users can then tap each respective tag to open a product page for more details:
Now on the product page, shoppers can view more product images, select from various color and size options, and click the blue “Checkout with Instagram” CTA button (instead of the “View on Website” button on traditional shopping posts) to proceed to payment directly on Instagram.
To complete a purchase, users must enter their name, email address, shipping address, and billing information the first time they check out. Standard payment methods (PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover) are accepted, but Instagram also plans to allow merchants to integrate their Shopify, BigCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, and CommerceHub with the Checkout feature.
After the first purchase with Instagram Checkout, users’ information is securely stored for convenience, so they can continuously shop their favorite brands without entering their information each time.
After buyers complete their Instagram purchase, they’ll receive shipment and delivery notifications in the app. They can also track their purchase from the new “Orders” section of their profile. This displays the status of an order, plus options to cancel, return, or contact the merchant.
Updates to Checkout
When it first launched in March 2019, Instagram Checkout was only available to select retail brands including Prada, Dior, Michael Kors, Adidas, Nike, H&M, and Burberry:
In April 2019, the in-app checkout process opened up to top public figures and influencers (artists, athletes, celebrities, publishers, etc.) — such as Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, Vogue, and GQ — instead of being limited to retail businesses. These influencers can tag products they use, or articles of clothing they wear so that followers can buy those items on the spot:
According to the New York Times, 55 influencer accounts are now working with the original 23 retail brands to test Instagram Checkout.
Similar to Checkout, Instagram is also launching a donation sticker for Stories to let people raise money for nonprofits from directly within the app.
What to consider before using Instagram Checkout
As with every ecommerce tool, there are two important factors to consider before experimenting:
An Instagram spokesperson reported:
We will introduce a selling fee to help fund programs and products that help make Checkout possible, as well as offset transaction-related expenses.
What isn’t yet known, though, is how much the selling fee would charge merchants, since testing is still being conducted with businesses during the closed beta. Instagram did confirm that “it will not change the price of the items for consumers,” which indicates that merchants will be solely responsible for covering the fee.
Not for ads
Instagram Checkout can only be used with organic newsfeed posts, Stories, and Explore, not the robust ads platform. Even with that disclaimer, offering Checkout ads in the future could eventually be a gold mine for the company.
Boost sales with Instagram Checkout
If you plan to market your products with Instagram Checkout, get familiar with its capabilities as best you can before publishing posts with it enabled. That way, you can maximize each post’s ROI right from the beginning.
In the meantime, take advantage of the many other features Instagram has to offer. For details on Instagram ads — as well as hundreds of other ad types and ad specs — download the Instapage Digital Advertising Guide.