Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags

Instagram is embracing its true identity as a mail-order catalog. The question will be how much power the merchants will give to Instagram after seeing what their father Facebook did to the media that trusted him. In a move that could face Pinterest and Wish, Instagram launches Shopping features in its app so people can discover and consider potential purchases before clicking to visit the merchant's website.

Today, Instagram Explore gets a personalized shopping channel for the articles you think will interest you the most. And it is expanding its Shopping tags for Instagram Stories to all viewers around the world after a limited test in June and allows brands from 46 countries to add the shopping bag icon to Stories that users can click to buy what they saw

Instagram clearly wants to graduate from where people get ideas for buying things to be a measurable gateway to their expenses. 90 million people already use their Shopping tags every month, he announced today. The new features could absorb more user attention and lead them to see more ads. But perhaps most important, demonstrating that Instagram can boost retail sales for free through Stories and Explore could open your appetite for buying Instagram ads to amplify your reach and take advantage of the conversion channel. With 25 million companies on Instagram but only 2 million advertisers, the application has room to increase its revenue massively.

For now, Instagram maintains its "no comment" on whether it is working on a separate application of Shopping Instagram according to a report by The Verge last month. Initially, Instagram launched its Shopping tags for feeds in 2016. However, it points users to merchant sites for the last payment step, in part because retailers want to control their customer relationships. But in the long term, allowing companies to choose to offer payment on Instagram could shorten the funnel and make more users actually buy.

Shopping joins For You, Art, Beauty, Sports, Fashion and other thematic channels that were launched on Explora in June. The Explore algorithm will show you the tagged publications of purchases of the companies that follow and those that you may like depending on who follows you and what content of purchases you are interested in. This is the first time you can see a dedicated commercial space within Instagram, and it could become a bottomless navigation well for those who need some retail therapy.

With Shopping Stickers, brands can choose to add one per story and customize the color to match your photo or video. One touch opens the product detail page and another sends it to the merchant's site. Companies will be able to see the number of taps on their Shopping tag and how many people clicked on their website. Partnerships with Shopify (more than 500,000 merchants) and BigCommerce (more than 60,000 merchants) will make it easier for retailers of all sizes to use Instagram Shopping Stickers.

How about taking Shopping to IGTV? A company spokesperson tells me: "IGTV and live video present interesting opportunities for brands to connect more closely with their customers, but we have no plans to bring buying tools to those surfaces right now."

For now, new shopping features feel like a gift for merchants hoping to increase sales. But so did the increase in referral traffic that Facebook sent to news editors a few years ago. Those outlets soon became dependent on Facebook, they changed the press room staff and the content strategies to pursue this traffic, and now they are in serious trouble after Facebook cut the fire hose while focusing on the Family content and friends.

should not take the same bait. Instagram purchases can be a good advantage, but how much you prioritize the function and the focus of the Explore channel are completely under your control. Merchants must still work to develop an immediate relationship with their customers, encouraging them to bookmark their sites or subscribe to newsletters. Instagram's favor could disappear with a change in its algorithm, and retailers should always be prepared to stay on their feet.

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