New York--Instagram wants to bring shopping directly to its users, and the company thinks it’s found a way to do that.
It recently announced the launch of a new feature, which is in a testing phase, to help its users discover and learn more about products on a shoppable post from brands.
Brands will be able to tag individual Instagram posts as shoppable. When they do, there will be a “Tap to view” icon at the bottom left of the photo. When tapped, a tag will appear on the product or products included in the post, displaying up to five products and their prices.
Once a tag has been selected, a new detailed view of the product will open containing more information and without the user having to leave the social network.
Then, if the consumer taps the “Shop now” link from this product details view, they will be taken directly to that product on the company or brand’s website to purchase.
Instagram has started with 20 U.S.-based retail brands, including Kate Spade, JackThreads, Warby Parker and costume jewelry site BaubleBar.
An Instagram spokesperson confirmed that the company is not charging these initial test partners for the new capabilities. When asked if they will in the future after a larger rollout, the spokesperson said only that the company plans on exploring sponsored formats.
During the test phase, the new features will be available to users on iOs devices in the United States.
The particulars of Instagram’s new shopping feature comes in response to a survey it did in which it learned that many web purchasers take more than a day to decide if they want to buy something and do research.
An eMarketer survey done this summer found that 84 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. browse, research or compare products via mobile web or app, but according to Instagram’s own survey, only about 21 percent of online purchases are done within a day of finding a product.
Instagram said as it rolls out further and learns from the beta phase, it will explore things like product recommendations, product displays on posts, global expansion and being able to save content so users can go back to it later.
More information on the timeline for the expansion was not available at press time.
Last year, the company opened up its advertising API to all marketers, but while that opportunity allowed companies to promote products in their ads along with a “buy” button, the new shoppable featured will apply to regular posts.
As Ryan McIntyre of JackThreads was quoted as saying on an Instagram blog post announcing the news, the update will “change the scope of what we, as retailers, are capable of offering on mobile. Instead of having to transition over to the JackThreads app, our customers will be able to shop seamlessly from their social media feeds--allowing us to reach guys where they’re already hunting for what’s new.”