Instagram is scaling up its in-app shopping capabilities, rolling out the ability to buy things via its ephemeral Stories service globally. It's also launching a personalised 'shopping channel' within its Explore section.
In the UK, Marks & Spencer will be one of the first brands out of the gate to trial the new features.
Back in June, Instagram Stories trialed a feature which gave advertisers the power to 'tag' their images and videos with links that directed people to their e-commerce sites.
Now, it's expanding that function to businesses in 46 countries, which it said will allow for a more "seamless" shopping experience for the 400 million people who watch or post Stories daily.
Instagram first brought shopping to its main grid for UK users in March this year, now it says 90 million people tap on 'tags' in buyable posts each month. Brands like Made.com and Topshop are among those to have experimented with the format.
The Facebook-owned app claims that one-third of the most-viewed Stories within its walls are posted by businesses.
"We're excited to see how Shopping in Stories enable brands to tell an even deeper story about what's behind their products," the company wrote in a blog post.
Instagram Stories has proven popular with advertisers since its launch in 2016.
Asos is just one retailer to have credited the social media platform for maintaining investment in “relevant, emerging content formats” like Stories. During its most-recent results call the fashion firm said the number of people viewing its content on the platform has almost doubled in just six months.
Brands are also inking ‘Stories-only’ deals with their influencers. Fashion giant Zalando told The Drum how it has forged “a lot” of deals that are purely Stories-based because people aren't as likely to skip past the content as they are when it's in-feed.
“A lot of what is going out on Stories feels more genuine. It's not as polished or as 'fake', it feels more real and that's why customers want to shop there. They feel a lot more connected and the shopping experience is a lot more integrated. Our Instagram Stories spend is going up,” said Zalando's PR, social media and influencer marketing manager for the UK and Ireland.
What's more, the format has been a boon for publishers seeking engagement from younger audiences. Beauty magazine Glamour, for instance, has detailed how 'swipe ups' to its content via Stories have increased by 1200% over the past year.
Shopping in the Explore tab
In addition to bulking up the e-commerce element of its 24-hour service, Instagram has also launched shopping in its Explore tab – a space that uses complex algorithms to serve up suggested content to users.
This will come in the form of a dedicated Shopping 'topic channel' in explore that will be tailored to individual's own tastes. Topic channels, which appear at the top of the Explore tab were launched a few months back to allow people to browse their interest.
"Now, when [people] simply want to shop for fun, [they'll] see a channel dedicated to shopping posts from the brands [they] follow and brands [they] might like," explained Instagram.
Instagram rival Snapchat flexed its own e-commerce muscle earlier in March when it partnered with Nike for a special pre-release of its Air Jordan III Tinker.
Snap's launch format similarly let people purchase products in minutes within its walls (the Nike sneakers sold out in 23 minutes) and it's since evolved the product to include augmented reality capabilities.