Blog : ecommerce

Will Instagram Tags Save Social E-commerce?

Will Instagram Tags Save Social E-commerce?

You may have heard the latest buzz surrounding the new Instagram feature, currently being tested by a select number of retailers. Shoppable product tags have been introduced by the social media site, to help brands transform their feeds into a retail space.

While all brands are currently able to promote their products via ads, this will offer a more natural shopping experience for users. The aim is to provide Instagram shoppers with a direct route to buying things, rather than having to go through descriptions and bio links, thus making the buying process far more efficient.

How does it work?

The feature is simple; brands tag the products featured in the image much the same way users can tag their friends. If an image has been tagged with specific products, it will include a label that instructs you to “tap to view products.”

Once you click on the picture, tags will appear, which can include the name of the product and the price. Clicking on an individual tag will bring up further information on the good and include the option to “shop now,” which will take you to the retailer’s website, allowing you to buy then and there. The feature has been designed to make the consumer experience seamless, minimizing redirections, so users can immediately buy something they like.   

Currently, a group of 20 US retailers including JackThreads, Kate Spade, and J.Crew is still testing the feature. Eventually, the idea is to start rolling it out across more countries, with carousel posts and video posts also in the pipelines. The company is also said to be considering a “save button,” which would allow users to save products they are interested in buying in a virtual shopping cart.

The failure of social commerce

Instagram is not the first social media site to try bringing shopping into the user experience. It’s easy to see the logic behind the decision to pursue e-commerce, after all, social media sites have massive audiences.

However, turning social engagement into sales is no easy feat. It simply doesn’t align with consumer behavior and how people want to buy. Many social sites are now accessed primarily through mobile, which has a notoriously poor rate of ecommerce effectiveness, converting at one-third to one-quarter the rate of desktop.

Twitter tried using a “buy button” for over a year, before abandoning the project for having a negligible impact on its earnings. Pinterest launched a buyable pins option, yet it is still unknown just how well the tool is performing with users.

Even Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has tried and failed with attempts at e-commerce products. Ventures include their online gift shop, Facebook Gifts, which was shut down after a couple of years back in 2014. Their attempt at a “buy button” also failed to catch on.

Learning from past experiences

So, how can Instagram learn from the past mistakes of others? So far, social commerce hasn’t managed to live up to its potential. Instagram hopes to change all that by making the process appear more natural. What sets them aside from some of the other platforms is that their users already use it as a tool to make purchasing decisions.

Instagram previously conducted a study, which found that 75% of users influenced by a post on the app take an action such as searching, visiting a site, or telling a friend. Furthermore, 60% say that they learn about products and services by using the platform. Instagram is highly visual and the ideal place for inspiration, discovery, and wasting time.

Many people use it for beauty, fashion, and food inspiration, so you can see how certain brands will be able to thrive in this environment. Many have already embraced the platform and managed to build a loyal number of followers who are primed to purchase. Removing the barrier imposed by the lack of links and “click the link in bio” solution, and introducing tags may be the best solution for this platform.

However, the platform is already facing pretty negative reactions to the news. Essentially, users are concerned that the feature will ruin the flow of the Instagram feed. Instagram is hoping that the approach is subtle enough so as not to turn users away, yet still compelling enough to drive sales. Think of it as an inspiring, scrollable version of a catalog. Only time will tell whether or not users will buy into this new feature.

NZ internet use: latest stats

NZ internet use: latest stats

Every two years, Auckland University of Technology and the World Internet Project (WIP) release their latest research on the internet behaviours of New Zealanders.

This month saw their latest update. Here is a breakdown of the key statistics:

  • 91% of New Zealanders are active internet users. 70% spend 2 hours or more per day online, with 58% spending 3 hours or more. 95% of all users browse the web and 85% visit social networks.
  • Laptops and mobile devices are the most popular devices for accessing the internet. According to the research, 75% obtained internet access using a laptop, while 74% used a mobile phone and 70% used a desktop computer.
  • Significant increases in online Government interactions demonstrate that both services and consumer behaviours are maturing. 52% of New Zealanders logged in to secure areas on Government or Council websites, and 55% paid taxes, fines or licences online in the past year.
  • Interestingly, more commercial internet activities such as online seeking of product information, buying, banking and paying bills are at similar levels to 2013. This may indicate a level of saturation, in which case organisations can begin to focus a little less on onboarding, and more on improving the experience.
  • The younger a person is, the greater their internet use. However, don’t think it’s just about the millennials – for those under 45 years of age, 90% rate the internet as an important or very important source of information.
  • Ethnically, results show Asian and New Zealand European internet users are more highly engaged in a range of activities, such as buying things online. Pasifika people, however, are more likely to look at religious sites and, along with Māori, lead the way in subscribing to online music services.
  • And our widespread use of the internet is unlikely to decrease anytime soon, according to eMarketer. New Zealand ranked fourth among all markets in the region in 2016, with more than 79% of New Zealand’s population currently online.nzinternet

What all these statistics demonstrate, is that, given the internet’s omnipresence, and our increasing level of reliance and comfort being online, having a clear digital strategy has never been more important.

You can view the full report here.