Instagram Shopping: 4 Best Practices to Follow

Instagram Shopping: 4 Best Practices to Follow

Instagram is taking the world by storm. With over one billion active users (90% of whom follow businesses in-app), this platform is not just for sharing photos and videos with your friends and family anymore. It’s also about Instagram shopping.

It’s an important marketing tool for businesses of all the sizes and shapes, so it’s no wonder that more and more brands implement Instagram marketing into their business strategies. Today, both B2C and B2B brands use this platform to reach out to their target audiences, establish a connection with potential customers, and deliver brand messages. 

The ecommerce industry is predicted to reach nearly 4 trillion in sales by the end of 2020, so it’s no wonder that more and more companies sell products online. 

Believe it or not, Instagram gives you an opportunity to drive ecommerce sales, too. Instagram shopping is gaining in popularity, so it’s high time to jump on the bandwagon and turn your Instagram profile into an online store, improve customer experience, and turn followers into customers.

The Popularity of Instagram Shopping

An average Instagram user spends around 53 minutes on the platform daily, so it’s easier for people to interact with their favorite brands in-app. 

Over the last few years, Instagram has become a popular marketplace, so it influences the consumer decision-making process:


The bottom line? Your followers want to buy from you on Instagram if you provide them with a seamless in-app shopping experience. To make the most out of Instagram shopping, keep on reading to find 4 best practices from popular brands as well as examples on how to optimize your account for in-app shopping.

1. Instagram Shopping: Use Your Instagram Account as a Storefront

Despite its growing popularity, Instagram shopping still has some drawbacks that turn customers off. Not only do customers can’t understand the quality of products and see whether chosen products can fit them, but they are also afraid of online shopping scams. 

Thus, it’s important to turn your Instagram account into a storefront and make it easy for customers to buy products in-app. Here are some proven ways to do it.

Set Up Instagram Shopping

First things first: You need to set up Instagram shopping to help your followers and visitors buy from you with ease.

To use Instagram shopping, you need to create an online store, connect it to your Instagram business profile, and start using the catalogue when posting product tags.

Once you’ve set up Instagram shopping, your profile will look similar to the following example:

With Instagram shopping, it’s easy for visitors and followers to tap on the ‘view shop’ button and take a look at the product catalogue to see the variety of products and prices.

Show Off Your Products

As a visual platform, Instagram is just a perfect place for showing off your products. Plus, 93% of customers say that visual appearance is a key deciding factor when making a purchase decision. 

This means posting product photos is a great idea to hook the attention of your following and spark interest in your products. It’s no wonder that all brands upload images to show the variety of products. 

But if you want to bring your business to the next level, it’s a good idea to make product videos, too. Dynamic videos help to show your products in action which helps customers understand whether your product can fit them or not. Moreover, the perfect video length must be within 45-60 seconds which means you can upload your video to the Instagram feed.

Here’s a great example of showing off products with photos and videos from Yves Saint Laurent:

Yves Saint Laurent Instagram shopping example

Of course, if you’re not one of the most popular fashion brands, you may lack the variety of product imagery. However, you can make the most out of your loyal customers and feature fan-made content as it helps to show off your products and provides visitors with social proof. 

Add Product Tags

It’s no secret that Instagrammers use the platform for product discovery. But showing your products on Instagram isn’t enough to turn your visitors into paying customers. They want to know more about featured products, so it’s important to add product tags that allow viewers to see product descriptions and prices without leaving the app.

Let’s take a look at a shoppable post from Calvin Klein:

NB: Instagram allows businesses to tag up to 5 products in a single-image post or add up to 20 products per multi-image post.

Create Story Highlight Albums

Instagram Stories are extremely popular among brands and users. Thus, most marketers and brands have started using Instagram Stories for ecommerce

However, just a few of them think about creating Story Highlight albums. Since Highlight albums appear below the bio section, it’s easy for visitors and followers to discover relevant products with ease. 

Check out how Sephora uses Highlight albums to group its products:

To create eye-catching Highlight album covers, consider using graphic design tools like Canva or Snappa. With the variety of ready-to-use templates, it’s easy for non-designers to create custom covers that meet the brand identity. 

2. Encourage Impulse Buying

According to one research, 88.6% of Americans give impulse shopping a try, making 156 impulse purchases per year (with an average spend of $81.75 per session). For ecommerce brands, this means an opportunity to turn more visitors into customers and increase sales.

The best thing about Instagram shopping is that the majority of users make unplanned purchase decisions, so it’s important to encourage impulse buying.

Share Discounts and Time-Limited Offers

It’s no secret that people love discounts and offers. As specified in the consumer purchase preference survey, 56% of people follow brands on social media to see promotions or coupons and 44% of users want to get a discount from brands they follow. 

Since these initiatives work on a principle of urgency, people are more likely to make a purchase when seeing discounts and offers. Here’s how one company tells about the mid-season sale via an Instagram post:

Instagram shopping example: kikki.K

Not only did Kikki.K put the text info on the visual, but it also wrote several sentences about the sale in the caption. This strategy is great as it helps to grab the attention of interested users who are scrolling the feed and provide them with detailed information via an Instagram bio link:

Another great example of this Instagram marketing strategy comes from Harvard Book Store. Not only did the company told followers about its limited collection, but it also included an expiration date in the caption:

Instagram shopping example: Harvard Bookstore

Use Stories for Ecommerce

Would it be great if you could cut through the noise and promote your products among 500 million daily active users? Consider using Instagram Stories.

At first blush, it seems that creating short-lived content isn’t the best way to boost sales. It’s interactive content and it disappears fast, so it’s nearly impossible to turn your followers into customers. 

But interactive content is a great tool for selling products on Instagram. In fact, 75% of marketers claim that interactive content leads to higher engagement rates and more leads. Plus, there are many Instagram Stories features that boost sales, so marketers can encourage followers to make purchase decisions with this interactive content. 

For example, you can share photos of your latest collection and include a clickable link so that users can find out more, just like in the example below:

Whether you want to show off your products, draw attention to your online sale, or tell more about your products, Stories are here to help you. With a short lifespan of 24 hours, using Instagram Stories for ecommerce is a great way to encourage impulse buying. 

3. Work with Customers in-App

When customers use Instagram for product discovery, they are more likely to establish a connection and communicate with brands in-app, too. For brands, this means you should be ready to work with customers on Instagram.

Publish Customer Testimonials

Having a popular product isn’t enough to acquire new customers. No matter how popular your product is, potential customers may have doubts whether to buy from you or not during the discovery phase

To predict questions about the quality of your products and turn hooked followers into customers, it’s a good idea to provide social proof on Instagram by publishing customer testimonials.

From repurposing customer reviews into social media posts to featuring video testimonials and publishing fan-made content, there are many ways for brands to share their customer feedback with followers. 

For example, Bali Body has a separate Instagram profile for featuring customer reviews and testimonials:

When you feature customer testimonials, you help potential customers understand that other people choose your product and they are satisfied with its quality as they share positive customer experiences. 

Provide Customer Service on Instagram

More and more customers use Instagram for customer service. Nowadays around 150 million people have a conversation with a business every month on Instagram. If you use Instagram shopping for boosting ecommerce sales, you should be ready to provide customer service on Instagram.

Obviously, you can feature a chatbot on your website and add a link in the bio. However, it’s also important to monitor direct messages and comments so that all followers can get timely responses to their requests. Here’s a good example of a customer service page from one fashion brand:

The company promises to solve requests within 48 hours, so it’s more likely they have a customer support representative who collects questions and communicates with customers in-app.

Obviously, this option isn’t a good fit for all businesses. So if you don’t have an opportunity to hire a social media moderator who can solve customer issues in-app, you can create a knowledge base and add a link to it. As a self-serve online library of information about your brand and product, it can solve up to 90% of your customer issues

4. Reach More Potential Customers

Not all Instagram buyers follow businesses in-app. To make the most out of Instagram shopping,  it’s important to reach more potential customers who may be interested in your products and services. Since the competition is getting higher on the platform, there are two proven ways to cut through the noise and interact with your potential customers.

Team Up with Niche Instagram Influencers

The age of influence is here. Modern customers trust recommendations from influencers as much as their friends and family, so working with Instagram opinion leaders is a great way to increase brand awareness and draw attention to your product.

Whether you send products for review, invite influencers to be brand advocates, or work together on product launch, there are many ways to enter an already-established community of an influencer’s following

Let’s take Lacoste, for example. In collaboration with Novak Djokovic, the brand has launched a new collection and the company promotes it on Instagram to reach a wider audience:

Obviously, not all fashion labels can afford to team up with world-known celebrities. But Instagram influencers come in all sizes and shapes–from nano-influencers with a small but loyal following to macro influencers and mega stars with the million number of fans. So it’s easy to find Instagram influencers who meet your niche and share your brand values.

To connect with niche influencers, you can reach out to them on Instagram or browse their website to find their contacts and stand out from the crowd of other brands who bombard influencers on social media profiles. 

Run Instagram Shopping Ad Campaigns

One of the best and easiest ways to cut through the noise for ecommerce brands on Instagram is to run Instagram ad campaigns. Today, over 2 million advertisers use Instagram for business promotion and paid ads help businesses get wonderful results.

Case in point:

In a now deleted case study from Instagram, when Brandi wanted to reach a wider audience on Instagram, the company teamed up with selected fashion influencers and created a series of Instagram ads. Here’s one example from this campaign:

Just within 13 days of promotion, the company got a 12% higher return on ad spend and a 11% lower cost per purchase, compared to ads run on the brand’s account. This means paid ads have great sales potential. Moreover, now ecommerce brands can promote shoppable posts which gives them an opportunity to reach a wider audience and acquire more customers.

Instagram Shopping In a Nutshell

Instagram is just a perfect channel for showing off your products and turning your followers into customers. With the variety of business-specific features, it’s easy for brands to tell more about their products and help customers buy from businesses in-app. 

Simply put, Instagram shopping is gaining in popularity, so ecommerce brands should jump on the bandwagon and turn their Instagram profiles into powerful sales machines.

Hero photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

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Val Razo
Val Razo

Val Razo is an expert on Instagram Marketing. Val is a freelance Social Media Marketing consultant with 5+ years of experience helping small and medium-sized businesses. Val claims that Instagram has great sales potential, so she recommends both big and small brands to use this platform for business growth. Follow her on Twitter to stay tuned for more.

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  1. As more influencers start launching their own products, we can expect to see a further increase in the popularity of Instagram shopping.

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