Hearing both sides of the debate: Niamh says yes, and Oisín says no.
Have you ever spotted something you’re desperate to buy on Instagram and wished you could just complete the purchase there and then? Currently, Instagram takes you to a website or a new window to buy online. Now, the popular platform has introduced a new shopping feature in the States, which could revolutionise the way we shop.
Instagram’s new shopping feature.
Instagram has been used to promote and advertise services and products for many years, but the new shopping feature offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to sell via social media. Instagram has taken the first step towards realising its goal of creating a digital shopping mall, enabling followers and subscribers to buy products through the app. Gone are the days of clicking on a link in the bio or swiping up on a story. Now, with Instagram Shopping, you can complete the purchase in one fell swoop. Before the launch of new Instagram features, if you liked a product you saw on the app, you’d have to visit the mobile site and complete the checkout process in the same way you would via a retailer website. Now, you can cut out this time-consuming process and complete your purchase on Instagram. Niamh thinks this will inevitably kill ecommerce websites as more and more people are turning to Instagram for their daily quick content consumption.
Initially, the in-app checkout facility will be used by a clutch of high-profile brands, including Zara, H&M, Nike, Uniqlo, Dior, and MAC Cosmetics, but is thought that the feature will be rolled out very quickly. We can’t wait to see what will happen but one thing is certain – this is one hell of a digital transformation right before our very eyes.
So – the question remains. Will Instagram’s new shopping feature kill websites?
Niamh thinks so.
Niamh certainly thinks so. Instagram is an increasingly popular social media platform, with over 1 billion users per month. While Instagram used to be focused on developing networks of friends and contacts and sharing images, it has become a powerful platform for businesses. Today, thousands of companies promote their products on Instagram, and the new shopping feature is undoubtedly going to have an impact on sales. The modern-day consumer looks for convenience, speed, and the opportunity to buy something and have it delivered as quickly as possible. With Instagram shopping, the cumbersome process of opening a new site and going through the checkout has been eliminated, and this will delight many online customers. For many, shopping on Instagram may become preferable to browsing websites, especially when buying from a brand that offers in-app checkout on Instagram.
If you’re a business looking to attract new customers and keep hold of loyal clients, especially a young demographic, it pays to move with the times and cater for emerging trends. While many people will still prefer to shop online in the conventional manner, Niamh believes that there’s never been a better time for businesses to explore Instagram’s new features, especially if you have a large following on the platform or you’re aiming to tempt customers aged between 16 and 40.
Instagram has become an increasingly popular platform for online shopping, and the new in-app checkout feature is an indicator of what is to come in the future.
In my view, it will change shopping for some brands and customers, but it will now kill off e-commerce websites. Streamlining purchases seems great, but moving all of our e-goods onto social media will not appeal to a lot of businesses. Giving so much power to a social media giant could prove off-putting. If selling directly on social takes off, Mr. Zuckerburg would be keen on adding transaction fees.
We already provide these czars with huge advertising revenues, are business owners going to be that keen to hand over even more money?
Alternatively, let’s say that Facebook doesn’t further monetise transactions or introduce selling fees. It’s worth remembering, the current shopping system is hardly laborious. Some goods already exist only a click or swipe away from our social content as things stand. In terms of shelf life, we also have to consider the dangers of putting all your eggs in your insta-basket.
Think about AOL and the Birches; ‘who and who’ you ask?
AOL (a one-time internet giant) bought BEBO (an ancient social media channel) from a husband and wife team, the Birches, for an estimated $800M. The social channel was to be the ‘cornerstone’ of their online strategy, their initial outlay was a show of strength. That was 2008, 5 years later in 2013, the Birches repurchased Bebo for $1m. Online shopping was in its infancy and nowhere near where it is today, but external threats remain.
Facebook has done well to stave off/buy out social media competition. They bought Instagram and then used the stories element to go head-to-head with Snapchat. Despite this, the competition will keep coming from all angles. Other markets outside of Facebook, will still generate web traffic, traffic which will be turned to sales. There are too many other players, such as Google, who won’t want to lose out. Yes, social media will streamline, but it won’t be the end of www.sales.