How to Use the New Shopping on Instagram Feature

Last year, Instagram rolled out a new feature called Shopping on Instagram, which allowed merchants to tag products in posts, linking them directly to product pages on their websites. But it was only available to big brands.

Starting this month, Instagram started rolling out Shopping on Instagram to the little guys, too. Thousands of Shopify merchants now have the ability to tag products on Instagram, creating a direct link in individual Instagram posts to products for sale on their websites. In other words, no more annoying “link in bio” calls to action when promoting your products on Instagram!

Why Shopping on Instagram is good for small merchants

This is a game changer for shop owners on Instagram, especially those who have lots of followers. I talked to Kristin Gonzales, owner of the online store Gigi and Max (check out their Instagram), who says she’s already seen a 14% uptick in Instagram traffic to her shop since she started using the Shopping on Instagram feature. (It’s important to note that Shopify and Google Analytics group these new Instagram product tag links with the rest of your Instagram traffic reporting, so as of yet it’s not possible to attribute a specific amount of traffic to the product tags alone.)

Because previously Instagram only supported one hyperlink per account and did not allow users to include external links in posts (they still don’t), Kristin used to use the “link in bio” workaround to direct her Instagram followers to products that were available in her shop, meaning she could talk about her products in an individual post, but if she wanted people to click through to them, she had to replace the link in her profile (which usually links to a shop URL) with a link to that specific product. Most merchants on Instagram were using this same hack, which created an extra step to view products that many shoppers didn’t bother with.

“People like to click quickly, they love easy,” Kristin says. “They do not want to go find your bio, or wait for an answer from you on where your link is. Some don’t have the time to browse the site to find the exact item they saw on Instagram.With the product tags they can easily see exactly where to go and it takes them right to the listing they need.”

shopping on instagram example post gigiandmax

Gigi and Max is using the new Shopping on Instagram feature to promote products within their feed, rather than directing followers to a “link in bio.”

Eventually this feature will be available to everyone using Instagram with Shopify, but until October 16, 2017, Shopify is only rolling out the feature to a select group of testers.

What do you need to do to get the new Shopping on Instagram feature on your Instagram account?

According to Instagram, you need to:

  • Have products in a Facebook catalog
  • Use the Online Store sales channel
  • Have a business profile on Instagram
  • Update to the latest version of Instagram
  • Use the Instagram app from an IP address in the United States

How to Take Advantage of the New Shopping on Instagram Feature

Once this feature becomes available to you, how will you use it to sell more products? Here are our thoughts so far.

Grow your following, but keep it real

The more people that follow you, the more people are likely to click through to purchase products on your website. Consider this: if a typical Shopping on Instagram post has a 0.1% conversion rate (right now we don’t have stats on this, so I’m using a lower-than-average e-commerce conversion rate) and you have 1,000 followers, you’ll make 1 sale per tagged post. But if you have 25,000 followers, you’ll make 25 sales with every tagged post, assuming the same conversion rate. This is why we’re already seeing merchants with more Instagram followers having more success (read: more sales) with the new feature than those with fewer than 5,000 followers.

But if your followers aren’t engaged, those conversion rates won’t stay the same. Your Instagram should be about making authentic connections with customers and having real conversations. People who feel connected to you are more likely to buy from you, so you could see high conversion rates from just a few hundred followers.

Work your products into your editorial content

Your Instagram feed should add substance to your shop, not just be an extension of it. Instead of simply posting photos of your products with a tag, showcase your products in context. Demonstrate them in action, showcase seasonal items, and inspire your followers with ideas that incorporate things you sell in your shop. In other words, tell a story with your products that inspires people to buy. Don’t expect people to click through and purchase from a plain ol’ product photo.

shopping on instagram feature tags shopify

Lionheart Prints does a great job of staging product photos. Here you can see the new Shopping on Instagram tags added to a recent Instagram post. 

Beautiful images still matter

Instagram is a visual channel. You can’t connect with people or grow a following if your images don’t cut the mustard. You’re also not going to sell products from Instagram if your images are dark, blurry, cluttered, or just plain meh. If you want people to buy from you, you have to inspire them, and beautiful, nicely styled images are the best way to do this.

What’s Next for Small Online Shops on Instagram

Instagram will eventually roll out the Shopping on Instagram feature to all Shopify merchants (they’ve also started working with other online platforms like BigCommerce).

We’re excited to hear what the conversion rates shape up to be for merchants using Shopping on Instagram, but in order to accurately assess how many people are buying from tags, Shopify and Instagram will have to allow specific campaign tracking of shoppable links so they don’t get lumped in with the rest of Instagram reporting. Eventually it seems like Instagram will add the ability for shoppers to check out directly from within the app.

As of right now shoppable tags are only visible to Instagram users in the United States. And you can not put tags in an Instagram ad… although we’d bet on that being an eventual offering.

Let’s hear from you

Are you using the new Shopping on Instagram feature? What do you think of it so far? What results have you seen?

Does your shop allow you to take advantage of multi-channel shopping? If not, it might be time to see what you can do with Shopify’s free trial period.

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About the Author

Katherine’s work with Aeolidia ties perfectly into her obsession with what it takes to grow traffic and meet goals with an online store. Together, we’re going to help you improve your online sales so you can focus on growing your business. Katherine excels in digital marketing strategy and is a regular guest lecturer and blog contributor supporting small businesses. As a former Etsy seller and founder of the Chicago-based vintage market The Vintage Bazaar, her experience as a creative small business owner is wide and enthusiastic.

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6 comments
  1. Awesome to know! Just signed up for Shopping on Instagram updates and enabled the Facebook channel. Thanks for the valuable intel :)

  2. I’d love to try it but I’m in Australia, hope they open it up jnternationally soon!

    • Katherine Raz says,

      Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer that they’re not rolling it out internationally. Hopefully soon!

  3. Does anyone know why these (like shoppable pins on Pinterest and Facebook shop items) are limited to physical products? Both Pinterest and Instagram are huge for people who DIY and drive a ton of traffic to my shop. I really would like to sell my digital products this way. The checkout is still through Shopify, so it seems like the digital delivery app would work just like normal. Have you heard if there are any plans for any of these platforms to expand into allowing digital products?

    • Katherine Raz says,

      I don’t know WHY they’re limited to physical products, just that they are. I have not heard of any plans for either platform to expand to digital products, unfortunately. It’s a real bummer!

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