The point of multichannel retail is to reach more people. Why else would we put ourselves through the trouble when maintaining just one ecommerce channel is hard enough. To that end, of all the places to expand to, Instagram is generally agreed to be one of the best. For retailers, it’s more than just another social media platform — Instagram offers a little something extra.
What, exactly, does Instagram have that its contemporaries do not? What makes Instagram especially lucrative for multichannel ecommerce? In this guide, we explain why almost all online brands need Instagram for their multichannel retail strategy. Here are five attributes of Instagram that make it the favorite sales channel for many online retailers.
1. Instagram Checkout
If you understand the importance of UX in ecommerce, you know that every additional click and web page increases the chances of your shopper abandoning their purchase. To increase the likelihood of making the sale, the checkout process needs to be as fast as possible with as few steps as possible.
For the longest time, making shoppers click to a retailer’s website was a huge gatekeeper between social media marketing and online sales. But as of 2019, that’s coming to an end. Instagram is one of the few social media outlets that allow users to purchase without leaving the site or app.
Just as it sounds, Instagram Checkout lets users select items from posts or Stories and buy them through Instagram, completing the transactions in just a few clicks or taps.
This essentially turns your Instagram feed into a product catalog, improving not just your conversion rates, but also your customer’s shopping experience. Shoppers can browse their Instagram feed naturally, but when they see something they like, they can buy it right away — no click-throughs, opening a new browser tab, or saving the post for later.
2. Insta Stickers
We’ve discussed the advantages of Insta Stickers in detail before, but they’re worth mentioning again. Instagram lets users decorate their Stories with stickers, some of which are clickable for extra actions. You can add stickers for user polls, locations, @ mentions, hashtags, or simply just visual flair. But for retailers, the most important of these are Product Stickers.
Video marketing in general is an ecommerce trend that gets more and more effective every year, as advancing tech makes it easier to host videos online. So using Instagram Stories is always recommended, regardless of whether you add stickers or not.
The stickers just provide that much more of a boost, making it easy to convert your followers into paying customers. It adds new flexibility to your product videos, letting you add more of your personal style.
3. Fashion Forward
If you’re a fashion retailer, Instagram is more of a necessity than an optional avenue. Along with Pinterest and Snapchat, Instagram is the social media platform for fashion, clothing, and outfit inspiration.
Fashion brands can show off (and sell) their products on Instagram, sure, but it’s more than that. For one, the format allows for more creative and artistic product photos. While other ecommerce platforms might prefer the plain white background, Instagram retailers can show off their products in more natural settings, indistinguishable from other Instagram posts by non-brands.
Moreover, it’s the social media channel most popular for fashion influencers. Especially for apparel, influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to boost sales online. The latest trend in digital marketing is including microinfluencers as well — but luckily Instagram has influencers of all shapes, sizes, and niches.
4. AR Capabilities
As we mentioned recently in our monthly ecommerce trend review, Instagram just rolled out new Augmented Reality features to its shopping markets. Although at the moment this AR is limited to just cosmetics and eyewear, the channel plans to expand this tech to other industries in the near future.
This tech is a great boost for the customer experience. It’s fun to use, but more importantly, it’s practical. Shoppers can “see” what the product would look like on them as easily as looking into their camera phone.
Since Instagram enables AR technology, that means you don’t have to. At least, not right now. AR tech is still on the cutting edge, so it’s not easy to implement. Rather than setting it up yourself on your own site, you can “borrow” Instagram’s AR capabilities for now until it becomes more affordable in the future.
5. Younger Audiences
Lastly, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for young (< 35 years old), users, in particular the 25-34 demographic. This age group is one of the biggest online shoppers at the moment, but you won’t find them this concentrated on Facebook or Twitter.
So if you’re targeting young shoppers, Instagram is where they are. But it’s not just about finding your target market, it’s also about appealing to them. The visual format of Instagram makes it easier to speak to younger customer groups, especially using specialized mediums like vlogs (video blogs) or memes.
If you’re targeting 18-24 year-olds, you’ll also want to look into Snapchat as well as Instagram.
While adding an ecommerce Instagram strategy is perfect for some sellers, moving to a multichannel retail strategy isn’t always easy. One of the greatest challenges of multichannel retail is keeping all your channels organized; discovering new channels, which can be tricky, is by comparison the easy part. When you employ a multichannel retail strategy, you have to keep close vigilance on inventory levels and stock listings, not to mention dynamic pricing, policy discrepancies, and staying on top of shipments.
Ecomdash has an easier solution: let the automated software handle it. Our multichannel listing tool handles a lot of the busy work for you — updating stock levels on all channels, allowing bulk updates to change up to 250 listings, and managing product variants on each channel, all from one central platform. This frees you up to handle the more important business decisions — like what to post on Instagram.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published September 2014 and was updated in January 2020 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.