How does Instagram shopping fit into your social media strategy?
It’s no secret that consumers rely on Instagram to browse new brands and hunt for products.
Recent data shows that shoppers on Instagram have gone from “browsing” to “buying” in a huge way.
According to Instagram, a staggering 44% of users shop on the platform weekly. The same data shows that 28% percent of those sessions are planned.
And with the platform’s ongoing roll-out of fresh ecommerce features, it’s easier than ever for followers to buy from you directly.
In this guide, we’ll break down how to set up Instagram shopping and best practices for promoting your products.
Why Instagram shopping should be a top priority for ecommerce brands
We’ll bite: at a glance, going all-in on Instagram shopping may not seem like a big priority.
But times have changed. The setup of the Shops platform is straightforward for both business owners and customers alike.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s highlight the advantages of setting up Instagram shopping for your business.
Turn your followers into customers faster
Sure, Instagram has the potential to be its own channel for sales.
But if you’re like most brands, the platform serves you best as an extension of your existing storefront.
Instagram shopping represents a seamless way to funnel followers to your product pages if you already have an audience. With Shops, new fans can start browsing your products as soon as they land on your profile. This empowers you to take your followers from brand-aware to product-aware in a matter of seconds.
Coupled with the ability to win email opt-ins and redeem Instagram-only coupons, the platform encourages social shoppers to take action rather than just browse.
See how social commerce platform Spring does this on their product detail page:
Create more compelling shopping experiences
When done right, social shopping represents a totally different experience than traditional ecommerce.
Consider the types of personalized shopping experiences given to consumers that would be impossible without social media:
- Showing off your products: Through user-generated content and influencers, you can give your products a human touch and a serious sense of social proof
- Tapping into your followers’ sense of FOMO: You can do this with time-sensitive live stream sales and exclusive Instagram drops
- Customizing interactions: Interact with consumers and personalize the shopping experience for them with DMs, tags, and comments
Squeeze more out of your existing ecommerce marketing efforts
Food for thought: social media for retail is all about having an omnichannel presence.
If you’ve already done the legwork of putting your product catalog online, double-dipping your promotions and sales on Instagram shopping is a no-brainer. With minor tweaks, your Shop and website product pages are one-in-the-same.
Want to import your products from Shopify? Looking to upload just a segment of your store manually? Go for it. The app has streamlined the process of getting your products on the platform which is great news for up-and-coming merchants.
What are the key features of Instagram shopping?
Whether you need a quick refresher or you’re totally new to IG shopping, here’s a quick rundown of the platform’s key pieces.
Simply put, this is your storefront. It’s where someone lands if they tap “View Shop” on your account or product pages. Here you’re able to highlight products, sale items and current promotions.
Instagram Product Tags allow you to highlight items from your product catalog directly in your videos and posts, so people can tap on a tag and immediately learn more. By tagging your products, they’re more likely to show up in spaces that people go to when they are in the mood to buy, like the Instagram Shop tab.
Read more to get tips on how to include them in your promotional posts.
Collections allow you to organize your products into groups. Rather than having shoppers endlessly browse and risk losing their interest, you can highlight similar types of products for specific types of customers. This is also a prime place to highlight your best-selling items.
Maternity fashion brand Monica and Andy have product collections for new mothers, expectant mothers, baby clothes and developmental toys.
Product detailed pages (PDPs)
Think of these as your individual product pages on Instagram. Here you can write unique descriptions, breakdowns of specific product specs, and shipping policies. This is brought in from your product catalog.
This is where the magic happens.
Instagram shoppers can be funneled into your website’s product pages once they click on the “View on website” button.
Instagram also gives you the option to provide easy checkout to customers so they don’t bounce off the platform by clicking the “Buy Now” button. See how skincare brand Murad does it here:
The “Discovery” tab on your homepage search bar allows you to browse products from Instagram Shops based on your recent activity. You can also look at subcategories such as “Offers and sales” for social-only deals or “Buy on Instagram” for brands selling through Instagram directly.
How to set up Instagram shopping for the first time (step-by-step)
Let’s say you’re ready to get your shop off the ground.
Nice! The process is easy enough and Instagram does a decent job of walking merchants through the process. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Step #1. Make sure you meet Instagram’s eligibility requirements
Eligibility for Instagram shopping doesn’t require a minimum follower count. If you have a relatively active and established presence, chances are you’re good to go. The basic eligibility requirements include:
- Having a business located in one of Instagram’s supported markets (throughout NA, LATAM, EMEA and APAC)
- Accepting the platform’s merchant agreement and commerce policies
- You have an active domain to sell products from
Step #2. Convert your Instagram profile to a professional account
You’ve probably already done this, right?
If not, you can:
- Go to Settings
- Select Account
- Switch to Professional Account and follow the remaining steps
You can learn more about the process here, it only takes a minute or two.
Step #3. Connect your account to an appropriate Facebook Page
Even if you’re not actively promoting your business on Facebook, your Instagram Shopping must be linked to a Facebook Page.
If you’ve set up a Facebook Shop, this is a similar process. From your Instagram profile:
- Go to Edit Profile
- Select Public Business Information
- Click on Page. From here, select the page you want your Instagram Shop connected to (or create one).
Step #4. Upload your product catalog
The former option is ideal for uploading a limited catalog or products one-by-one manually. Through integrations with Shopify or BigCommerce, you can essentially import your existing catalog into Instagram.
Step #5. Submit your Instagram shopping account for review
Once your catalog is established, you have to submit your Shop to Instagram for review. According to Instagram themselves, this process takes a few days. You may be required to verify ownership of your storefront domain.
Step #6. Active Instagram shopping and start selling!
After you’re approved, the final step is to simply turn your shop on.
- Go to Settings
- Click on Business
- Select Shopping
- Select Product Catalog
- Tap Done and you’re good to go
“Which types of content can I post to Instagram Shopping?”
The good news is that Instagram gives you a ton of freedom in terms of how you sell and present your products. Check out the options below:
Tagged product posts and Stories
These are the most straightforward types of promotional posts for Instagram shopping.
Whether through a product photo or a snapshot of your products in action, you can transform any traditional post into an invitation to check out your store. Similar to tagged photos, shopping tags via Stories allow followers to “tap a link” and visit your storefront as well. Boot brand Danner Boots uses tagged products below, you can also see their “View Shop” call to action.
There’s no shortage of Instagram ad success stories out there. Perfect for retargeting visitors that bounced from your store or serial scrollers on Instagram, shopping ads can present themselves in users’ homepage feeds and Stories alike. Many shopping ads put products front-and-center to entice buyers.
Live shopping streams
Keeping up with the trend of livestream shopping, you can now sell products directly via tagging in Instagram Live. Streams are ideal for launches, drops and introducing brand new products to your followers.
Guides serve as an opportunity to educate customers with valuable tips while also showcasing your products. For example, this breakdown from skincare brand Versed highlights common beauty product ingredients, including skin-nourishing ingredients found in their products and irritants to avoid.
7 Instagram shopping strategies to promote your store
Scenario: you’ve set up Instagram shopping but your storefront isn’t getting much action.
Hey, don’t panic! Shoppers on Instagram don’t flock to your product pages by accident. To wrap things up, let’s look at some ways to promote your Instagram, get more eyes on your store, and score more sales.
1. Experiment with Instagram-specific promotions
Pop quiz: why should someone buy from you on Instagram versus your site?
This is arguably the biggest challenge that merchants are facing when it comes to Instagram shopping. Perhaps the most basic solution is to run promotions exclusive to Instagram, such as:
Don’t underestimate the power of a deal. Brands like Monica and Andy promote a 20% off sale to serve as an incentive. Given how many first-time buyers seek out discounts prior to engaging with a new brand, this is a smart move.
A new feature exclusive to Instagram shopping called Drops allows you to create a sense of hype around your next product launch.
You can browse the “Drops” tab within the Instagram Shop tab to see which brands are about to release something fresh. Shoppers can set reminders before your sale goes live.
…and likewise, see your Drops beforehand through tagging. Athletic brand Uninterrupted utilizes this on their seasonal sweater release.
2. Promote satisfied customers through user-generated content
The power of user-generated content for ecommerce is well-documented.
Social proof. Discoverability. More opportunities to see your products in action.
This is why encouraging product tags is such a big deal when it comes to social media ecommerce. The same rules should apply to merchants on the rise that want more buzz and more eyes on their storefronts organically.
Another added bonus of curating user-generated content is that you can feature your Instagram shopping items on your page.
See how BH Cosmetics encourages the use of branded hashtags among their followers. Given that UGC can boost product page conversion rates by up to 64%, this is all the more reason to earn more customer shout-outs.
3. Pay attention to your product visuals
Anything you can do to make your product photos “pop” is a plus.
Not every brand has the luxury of promoting a stylish, aesthetically pleasing product. That said, some simple ideas to draw more attention to your photos include:
- Vibrant and bright colors (including backgrounds)
- Featuring people (think: influencers and UGC) whenever possible
- Experimenting with multiple angles via carousels
4. Entice shoppers with captions and product descriptions
Instagram captions and product descriptions are valuable real estate for captivating skeptical shoppers’ attention.
As a rule of thumb, try to:
- Showcase your personality and brand voice (hint: don’t be a robot)
- Focus on key benefits and features (hint: bold them, use lists)
- Remember not to get too wordy
Hair dye brand Arctic Fox Hair Color breaks up their product descriptions by bolding and highlighting the details most important to their target audience.
5. Integrate shopping shout-outs into your Stories and Reels
The more opportunities you have to integrate your Instagram Shop into your content strategy, the better.
So don’t ignore your Stories and Reels. Both are booming right now in terms of popularity. There’s a reason why so many brands have weekly Stories dedicated to their satisfied customers.
6. Work with influencers or run ad campaigns
Although growing your store organically is ideal, more competitive industries (think: fashion, beauty or fitness) may require you to pay-to-play to get the ball rolling. Whether through Instagram advertising or influencer marketing, shopping-focused campaigns can build awareness and earn you more sales at the same time.
7. Make tagged products part of your content calendar
As you build out your content calendar and schedule post on Instagram, ask yourself: where does Instagram shopping fit in?
Including tagged product photos as part of your content strategy is a must-do. Some industries and brands can get away with being more aggressive about product promotion than others, though.
When in doubt, double-check your content calendar to make sure you don’t post too much “salesy” content. Find a balance between promotional posts, engagement, motivation, humor and what speaks directly to your target audience. Tag often and in different formats to help potential shoppers learn more about your products at the moment of discovery.
Here you can see the variety of posts in Sprout’s content calendar includes a mix of open-ended questions and promotional content.
Is your Instagram shopping presence where it needs to be?
Listen: Instagram shopping shouldn’t be a “secondary” channel for brands serious about social selling.
From gaining brand awareness to growing traffic to your storefront and winning sales, the benefits of having an Instagram Shop presence are crystal clear.
Whether you want to build your store from scratch or optimize the presence you already have, the tips discussed in this article will help you do the trick.
And if you aren’t already, make sure you’re up to speed on the latest Instagram best practices to ensure your brand gets the attention it deserves on the ‘gram.
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