Instagram has made it easy and fun for a lot of celebrities, business owners, artists, and others to run branding campaigns with high levels of audience engagement with lots of Instagram followers. It’s been an important tool for anyone trying to raise awareness of their products, services, or cause- but the when it comes to collecting payments- folks have been left to refer customers to other detached processors like PayPal or traditional payment processing avenues.
All that could change in 2019 in some regions. The social media platform is planning to roll out a ‘buy’ button. Creators will be able to utilize this to enable their fans to buy merchandise directly from them in the Instagram app.
An Instagram developer said, “By the middle of next year, the platform will have a ‘buy’ button. Once payments and other aspects are figured out, Instagram will start selling directly.
This is good news for Instagram influencers who don’t want their Instagram followers to have to leave the page in order to access their products. It’s also good news for Instagram who also would prefer that users hang around on their site. It could pose a threat to the many shops and sites that are now hosting the products associated with Instagram accounts.
The unknowns include how it will affect Instagram’s digital partners and what kind of backlash will come from organizations that stand to lose out on traffic. For those reasons, and to avoid preventing influencers from gaining more real Instagram followers, Instagram is limiting the initial rollout to India. India is a good testing ground since it is big enough, digital enough, and has enough English speaking computer users to serve as a good analog for bigger markets.
Analysts believe that as much as 80% of India’s internet fashion market is dominated by Amazon India and Flipkart. Arpan Sheth, a consulting partner for Bain & Company said “Instagram Shopping may boost sales for brands and smaller fashion portals by redirecting customers to the merchant websites. Instagram would have to figure out other aspects of customer experience, such as logistics, payments, and returns to be able to take users away from fashion eCommerce platforms in the long run.”
The question is, will Instagram have what it takes to cope with all the bumps and unforeseeable problems that come with processing payments online? Fraud, chargebacks, shipping mistakes, and other sticking points are the reason online payment processors tend to be standalone services- letting merchants and buyers work out their disagreements directly.
The feature will be in a limited beta state for the whole of 2019.
Instagramers anxious to start selling directly to real Instagram followers will have to wait until early next decade.