What indies and brands should know about Instagram’s long-term vision for retail

New Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has revealed his long-term vision to focus on the retail side of the platform, with plans to roll out new ‘shoppable’ features over the next five to 10 years. The popular social media app has already begun to trial ways of allowing users to buy products directly on its platform. However, future plans include the introduction of “native checkout” where users can shop without leaving the app as well as “shopping bags” for holding items.

In his first interview about Instragram’s strategy since joining the firm last October, he told the Financial Times that he was aiming to “connect the dots thoughtfully” between shoppers, sellers and the app’s network of “influencers.”

Andy Burton, CEO of digital agency Tyzens, says the developments are exciting for online retailers: “The challenge is that it can be difficult to tempt Instagram’s users off the site and therefore convert ‘likes’ into sales,” he explains. “Our research suggests that 85 per cent of millennials reach for their smartphones first when making purchases via the internet, and with one billion people using Instagram every month, the market potential for retailers to capitalise on this move is huge. By working with Instagram, retailers will be able to reach the largest possible audience, who can purchase an item in a matter of seconds due to advancements in simplified payments on websites from the likes of Apple Pay, Android Pay and PayPal.”

However, he does warn that retailers must ensure their operations are ready for changes in Instagram’s shoppable content: “I am sure we will see further advances in the market as a whole as more ways to connect user and brand generated content with an intuitive, immersive and efficient shopping experience come to the fore.  However, retailers need to ensure that their support systems and back end operations are fit for the social media revolution – by which I mean being able to respond to enquiries in near real time, engage with consumers in the right tone of voice, and, able ensure orders are fulfilled effectively requiring a single view of customer, single view of stock and single view of inventory to be truly agile.”