How Your Customers Shop On Instagram

Posted on May 24, 2016 by

Instagram Selling

Instagram selling is not a fantasy. It’s real and it’s happening as you read these words.

Let me tell you a true story about a woman; I’ll call her Sabrina. We’re going to show you how easy it is for her (and your customers) to shop on Instagram.

Lately she has been into florals. Recently, her sister shared a business’ Instagram photo with her through Instagram private messaging. The photo was of a floral dress they were selling. Gorgeous.

She commented on the photo including the word “sold” with her email address and size. Minutes later, she received an email with an invoice that she could pay via Paypal and a week or so later the dress arrived in the mail.

This story is Sabrina’s buyer journey for one product online without ever visiting the business’ website. Her experience involved Instagram, email, and Paypal.

Instagram is now an established platform and some businesses have been active on the platform for years. They connect with their audiences by posting photos of their products, inspirational quotes, images of people using their products, store photos, and so on. The analytics for Instagram are less robust than on Facebook or Twitter. It’s hard to know that a person bought a product because they saw it on Instagram; it’s easier to watch a click come in from Facebook, for example, and see it through to the sale.

Selling through likes

Well known is the barrier of getting consumers to see an item on Instagram and go to the website or store to purchase that item. For example, links don’t work in Instagram descriptions, but a creative workaround is to state in the description “link in profile,” which works to get some users to view your profile and click on the link to your website to find the product.

A simpler way to do this is to use Like2Buy, which is a product by Curalate that can “make your Instagram shoppable” and help you “discover Instagram’s missing link.”

Retail giants like Nordstrom use Like2Buy. Here’s how it works: as Nordstrom posts to their Instagram feed, the photos are added to their Like2Buy landing page as well, which looks just like their Instagram feed. A user can click on the link in their profile, visit the identical Like2Buy page, click on the image again, and go directly to the product page to buy what’s in the photo.

This tactic is better than the “old-fashioned” alternative: putting the Nordstrom home page in the profile instead and hope that customers will search for the product, as hard as that is on a phone. Describing millennials and their purchasing habits, Kristen Strickler says, “…the more steps they have to take to buy something, the more it drops off” (Forbes).

Instagram management tool Agorapulse

Selling through comments

Some creative businesses use services that allow people to buy items on Instagram by linking accounts. Sabrina’s story describes what a person might do to buy an item from a business that uses Soldsie, a platform that allows businesses to sell through Instagram and Facebook comments. Consumers literally just have to comment on the photo they’re viewing and that comment will start the buying process, as I’ve described.

In this example, Pinkish Trends tells their customer how to buy the dress they see in this photo. They also create a sense of urgency: their settings give the dress to the next person if the first in line doesn’t complete the transaction in one hour.

Get more examples on Instagram selling here.

Selling through Instagram ads

There is a way to make Instagram images clickable — and that is to pay for Instagram ads. These images allow a viewer to click through to the landing page of your choice. Instagram ads are marked as such (including the word “sponsored”).
Below is an example of an Instagram ad and what you would see if you clicked on it: a link to a landing page outside of Instagram.
Instagram ad screenshot

Your customers  love shopping on mobile devices

Millennials like Sabrina receive recommendations from friends and relatives through platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. How can you make it as easy as possible for a millennial to purchase from your business? The idea is to give mobile readiness not just to your website, but also to your social media strategy. A purchase should require as few steps as possible.

Have you considered Instagram selling as a way to improve your bottom line? Let us know in the comments!

Instagram Selling
Stephanie Leishman, founder of Apiarity, helps organizations meet their goals through exceptional social media. She also presents to audiences that range in size from 40 to 1,000. She has helped multiple organizations restructure their processes to optimize the time and resources they invest in online marketing.