Instagram is preparing to launch a new feature this upcoming week which will allow users to have an easier time buying items they find interesting with the website’s help.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Instagram noted that “more than 84% of smartphone users in the US browse, research or compare products via a web browser or mobile app.” However, customers can have a difficult time finding a link which will let them purchase something they found on Instagram. Instead, they have to go through a search engine which sometimes will not be able to pull up the exact item.
The new feature fixes this by letting businesses tag items directly on their posts. Consumers can select the tags, which will provide more details about the item and can take them directly to the business’s website. This feature is similar to product review sites, like top picks of ProductReviews, where businesses can tag items directly for customers to share. Instagram currently has 20 brands ready to participate, some of which include Target, online eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
In an interview with CBS News, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger said that the company decided to do this after watching how both advertisers and users had to go through a “cumbersome” process in order to match customers up with their desired product. Krieger also said that for “right now,” Instagram was just trying to connect the people with the product, but did not deny that they may take a cut off the top at some point in the future.
Krieger and Instagram may say that they designed this new feature to help consumers, but it also represents how social media websites are determined to compete with search engines for ad dollars from retailers. In addition to Instagram, Snapchat has discussed creating its own ecommerce platforms for months and Twitter attempted to branch into ecommerce before shutting down efforts due to recent struggles to retain users.
The battle to control ecommerce will remain relevant as it continues to grow in importance. A recent retail forecast concluded that the growth shows no signs of slowing down. Business Insider’s forecasts state that U.S. consumers will spend $632 billion in 2020 compared to $385 billion in 2016.