As 38.7% of online shoppers aged 16-24 have used Instagram Shopping to purchase an item, retailers targeting this demographic should recognise the potential of social media – beyond a marketing tool – as an additional sales platform that is especially effective at driving impulse purchases.

Instagram Shopping 2019

Instagram Shopping is a tool that allows retailers to tag items featured in their Instagram posts, allowing consumers to click on the link for a product that directs them to the specific page on a retailer’s website. Retailers targeting young consumers need to seize the opportunity created by the new shopping habits of this demographic as they increasingly use Instagram Shopping as a platform to make purchases. Using the tool, retailers can promote specific products to a huge number of followers (for example, H&M and ASOS have 30 million and 9.3 million respectively) and engaged shoppers, in particular by boosting impulse purchases.

Online shoppers who have used Instagram Shopping to purchase (%)

The chart shows the proportion of online shoppers who have clicked through Instagram Shopping to a product page on a retailer’s website to buy products. Source: GlobalData’s UK E-Retail survey of 10,000 nationally representative online shoppers.

As a shopping platform, Instagram also has the advantage of being personalised, as users can follow retailers and hashtags, and use the ‘explore’ function to search content themes, view relevant posts and search for accounts, tags and places.

The viewable content is therefore targeted so consumers are more exposed to relevant products than they might otherwise be on a retailer’s website or app unless personalised settings are applied.

For smaller retailers, without the resources or ability to develop an effective and personalised app, Instagram Shopping offers a way to boost mobile sales with less investment, the social media company claims.

Additionally, Instagram says its software allows retailers to react quickly to trends by highlighting popular and talked-about pieces as they emerge, and to engage with consumers to build brand loyalty – especially in the highly competitive young fashion market.

However, stock availability is vital to ensure the effective use of Instagram Shopping, as the products featured and tagged on Instagram Shopping have heightened visibility compared to the rest of the retailer’s products.

Retailers should be prepared for the greater demand for featured items and use forecasts based on previous reactions to avoid selling out of stock too quickly. For instance, Marks & Spencer often highlight products on Instagram Shopping that rapidly sell out, leading to numerous comments from frustrated shoppers, contributing to a more negative perception of the shopping experience.