Instagram testing new shopping feature on iOS

2 Nov 2016

Image: iJeab/Shutterstock

The US is the test bed for Instagram’s latest monetising project, with a new shopping “experience” trialled amongst iOS users in the country.

Mobile has bridged the divide, catching up with desktop internet use and overtaking it. Its lead, a narrow 2.6pc margin, will probably extend into the future, leaving desktop computers as things of the past.

How long it takes depends on what you read (probably on your smartphone), but things that help speed up the procession include popular companies adding features to their service that can enhance and, if anything, underline the benefits of mobile.

Future Human


Since Facebook bought Instagram four years ago for almost $1bn, the image-sharing app has boomed beyond what many outsiders might have expected.

Sporting 500m users, it takes the lead over the likes of Twitter and Snapchat by some distance. Its user base is pretty broad, but as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said during the summer: “500m people mean 500m windows into the world.”

“As new voices continue to join the conversation on Instagram, these windows become even more diverse – broadening our perspectives, bridging the distances between us, and inspiring our sense of wonder,” she said.

On that pious thought, Instagram now wants today’s sense of wonder to include the latest bags for sale.

Shopping is on its way to Instagram, with US iOS users soon to see its tests.

20 US-based retail brands including Kate Spade, JackThreads and Warby Parker will share posts “that have more depth”, appearing in a person’s Instagram feed.

Each post will have a tap-to-view icon at the bottom left of a photo. When tapped, a tag will appear on various products in the post – showcasing up to five products and their prices. Once a tag is selected, a new detailed view of the product will open.

Instagram shopping

“This functionality will bring important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey, all without having to leave the Instagram app to search,” said the company.

“Then, if the consumer taps the Shop Now link from the product details view, they’ll go directly to that product on the business’s website, making it easier for them to buy the product they want.”

Given that it will be hosted within Instagram, it has echoes of Facebook’s Instant Articles feature, a fast-loading tool that encourages people to stay where they are and not to immediately visit sites outside of the brand.

Should this prove successful, Instagram wants to add a ‘save’ tool, as well as investigate product recommendations, the ways products are showcased to shoppers, and an inevitable global roll-out.

Instagram. Image: iJeab/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic