Rather than directing customers from your Instagram account to your website, Instagram Shopping allows them to select and purchase products easily from the app.
More than 130 million users tap on an Instagram Shopping post each month — foot traffic a brick-and-mortar shop owner could only dream of. So if you have products to sell, it’s time to set up your virtual storefront. Let’s get started.
In this post, you’ll learn:
Why you should be using Instagram shopping
How to set up Instagram shopping posts and Stories
How to optimize your shoppable posts to drive sales and engagement
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
What is Instagram shopping?
Instagram Shopping is a feature that allows ecommerce brands to create a digital, shareable catalog of their products right on Instagram.
Users can learn more about products right in the app, and either purchase directly on Instagram (with Checkout) or click through to finish the transaction on the brand’s ecommerce site.
Sharing products or promoting sales on Instagram is nothing new. According to Instagram, 87% of users say influencers have inspired them to make a purchase, and 70% of avid shoppers turn to the platform to discover new products.
In the past, the only option for e-tail brands to directly drive sales traffic from a ‘gram was either through their bio link, or via clickable Instagram Stories.
With these new Instagram Shopping features, the whole process is streamlined. See it, like it, buy it, in a few clicks: the full Ariana Grande cycle.
Here are a few key details and terms that every Instagram retailer should know before they get started:
An Instagram Shop is a brand’s customizable digital storefront, which allows customers to shop right from your Instagram profile. Think of it as a landing page where users can discover or browse all your products.
Product Detail Pages display all of the key product information, from the item description to the price to photography. The product detail page will also pull in any product-tagged images on Instagram.
Collections are a way that Shops can present products in a curated group — basically, it’s like merchandising your digital front window. Think: “Cute Spring Outfits,” “Handmade Pottery,” or “Nike x Elmo Collab.”
Use a Shopping Tag to tag products from your catalog in your Stories or Instagram posts, so your audience can click through to learn more or buy. U.S. businesses who use Instagram’s limited Checkout feature can also tag products in post captions and bios. (You can also use Shopping Tags in ads! Yowza!)
With Checkout (currently only available in select regions), customers can purchase products directly in Instagram, without leaving the app. (For brands without Checkout functionality, customers will be directed to a checkout page on the brand’s own ecommerce site.)
Okay, this is the part where you actually upload all of your products. You’ve got a couple of different options here. You can either input every product manually into Facebook Business manager, or integrate a pre-existing product database from a certified ecommerce platform (like Shopify or BigCommerce.)
They’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll be discovered by someone new, opening up a whole new opportunity for potential engagement.
Searching the #shoplocal tag, for instance, brings up a plethora of small businesses — like epoxy artist Dar Rossetti — that I can buy from right on the spot.
Using the right hashtags can also help you land on the Explore page, which has a special “Shop” tab and is visited by more than 50% of Instagram users each month (that’s more than half a billion people).
3. Share a sale or promotional code
Everyone loves a good deal, and running a promotional campaign is a surefire way to drive sales.
Leisurewear brand Paper Label is promoting a sale on its essentials in the caption. Interested users can just click through to take advantage of the deal, and be decked out in spandex in no time.
When you promote the code directly in your shoppable Instagram posts, it’s even easier for customers to act.
4. Show your product in action
The most popular type of video content on Instagram is the tutorial or how-to video. And this format is ideal for shopping posts, because it offers viewers product education and proof-of-concept.
Here, Woodlot shows one of its essential-oil-based soaps in action, lathered right up to transport you right to bathtime.
5. Be authentic
The principles of social media engagement all apply to product posts, too… and that includes the golden rule of authenticity.
There’s no need to stick to product copy. Your personality and voice should shine through here! Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with your audience with a thoughtful caption that offers surprising insight or an emotional connection. What inspired the piece? How was it made? Storytelling is a sales tool as old as time.
Postpartum care company One Tough Mother backs up all of its product posts with empathetic, often funny insights about new motherhood.
6. Play with color
Color is always eye-catching, so don’t be afraid to embrace a vibrant hue as a background for your product shot.
Artist Jackie Lee shares her graphic prints on a neon-colored background for maximum impact.
If you’re noticing a particular color palette trending among influencers, swerve to something that contrasts to stop scrollers in their tracks.
7. Establish a signature style
Having a consistent aesthetic on Instagram will help you improve your brand recognition and establish your identity.
It also helps customers scrolling through their feed or browsing the Explore tab to recognize your posts at a glance.
Sebastian Sochan makes hand-tufted rugs in London, and shoots all of his pieces in displayed in unique ways throughout his studio. The color palette and lighting remain the same in every scene.
Your signature style on Instagram should be consistent with your brand visuals elsewhere. Your website, ads, and product packaging should all fit together, with complementary images.
8. Be inclusive
If you want your brand to reach a wide audience, you need to ensure your images are meaningfully representative.
With over a billion users, it’s safe to say that Instagram users are a diverse group.
But too often, the people in Instagram promotions and images look the same: white, able-bodied, slim. Embrace all your potential customers with models who showcase all the different body types that are out there.
Period-product brand Aisle uses models of all genders, sizes and race in the promotion of its products.
Another inclusivity tip: Caption your images descriptively so that visually impaired users can still learn all about your amazing product.
9. Share user-generated content
User-generated content (UGM) refers to any posts or Stories from Instagram users that feature your products.
Not only do these posts provide new, real images of your photos in action, they also boost your credibility. That’s because posts from real users are considered more authentic, and that authenticity translates to higher trust. They’re like visual testimonials.
Show off your range with a carousel that showcases a variety of products. It’s a quick way for users to get a broader look at your latest collection, without having to tap allll the wayyyy to your Instagram Shop.
11. Collaborate with tastemakers
Team up with a tastemaker to help spread your product posts further. Invite an influencer or person you admire to curate a special Collection of their favorite goods from your catalog.
One example: Linens brand Droplet teamed up with Canadian influencer Jillian Harris to create a special line of products. The cross-promotion helped expose its products to a whole new set of eyes.
You’ll tag them in all of your posts; they’ll share with their own audience (and get a warm fuzzy feeling that you admire their sense of style). Win-win!
12. Craft compelling CTAs
Nothing pairs better with a beautiful photo than a compelling call to action. A call to action is an instructive phrase that pushes the reader to take action — whether that’s “Buy now!” or “Share with a friend!” or “Get it before it’s gone!”
Eyewear brand Warby Parker, for example, gives followers the exact instruction they need to shop right away: “Tap the [shopping bag icon] to get yours!”
Shopping on Instagram is only going to grow in popularity, and it’s just a matter of time until features like Instagram Checkout is global. So there’s no time like the present to dive in and find out how much it can benefit your business, as part of your overall social media strategy. Let the digital shopping sprees begin!