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Will You Start Shopping on Instagram?

The platform is developing and testing new features for brand and retail accounts.
Probably scrolling through Instagram. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Probably scrolling through Instagram. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Instagram announced on Tuesday that it will begin adding shoppable features next week, allowing users to discover and purchase items more seamlessly. The platform has partnered with 20 U.S.-based brands and retailers, including Kate Spade New York, Warby Parker and JackThreads, to integrate the shopping posts with their accounts. "Knowing that Instagrammers are open to discovery on the platform, and that people take time to better understand the products they're interested in, this test gives our community valuable steps along their shopping journey before they make a purchase," says an announcement on Instagram's business blog.

It'll go something like this: A user will come across a photo with a notice on the bottom left corner that says "Tap to View Products," similarly to how a tagged icon notice appears. Once the photo is tapped, up to five tags will appear with product names and prices. Tapping on a specific product will lead users to a separate page (still on Instagram) with more information. Finally, if users like what they see, they can tap "Shop Now," which will lead them directly to the account's retail page to make a purchase. Cha-ching.

Mock-ups of Instagram shopping on Kate Spade New York's account (@katespadeny). Photo: Instagram

Mock-ups of Instagram shopping on Kate Spade New York's account (@katespadeny). Photo: Instagram

"Instagram and Warby Parker share a similar appreciation for beautiful design and seamless experiences," says Dave Gilboa, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO, on Instagram's blog. "But right now, there isn't a simple, clean way for us to share details about the products featured within our posts. Customers often have to ask us, which creates a bulky experience on both sides. We love how seamlessly integrated and consumer-centric this new experience is."

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Though Instagram hasn't shared how exactly participating accounts (and the platform itself) will monetize on these new capabilities, it's certainly a smart decision for the company to tap into the rise of mobile shopping. (According to eMarketer, 84 percent of U.S. smartphone users browse, research or compare products on a web browser or through a mobile app.) And that's not to mention how important it is for brands to build a strong following and presence on Instagram.

But don't expect to see these shopping features on your feed anytime soon. The company will test them on a group of select accounts in the U.S. first, with plans to expand globally while adding even more innovations, such as product recommendations and the ability for Instagram users to save this shopping content for them to visit later.

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, which is expected to ring in $91 billion from online alone, we have to applaud Instagram's timing on rolling this out. But will users actually start shopping in between scrolling, double-taps and viewing stories — and how much will this benefit the brands and retailers involved? Plus, influencers are prime accounts when it comes to a user discovering and buying new pieces via social media. Programs from ShopStyle, RewardStyle and Project September are already providing ways for them to monetize on Instagram. (Dash Hudson, which launched in 2014, offered a similar service with product links from imported Instagram photos, but has since switched to providing insights and analytics.) Will they eventually be able to add shopping features on their accounts, too? We'll have to wait and see. 

This story has been updated to clarify Dash Hudson's current business model.

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