Instagram today (March 19) launched its checkout feature, a function that will allow users to buy products directly from a brand’s shoppable post without leaving the app.
Instagram has picked 23 brands to start – including Adidas, Dior, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC and Zara – to beta test the e-commerce integration, and it will be available in the US only.
Items eligible for in-app checkout now have a big blue “Checkout on Instagram” button below them. Tap it and you’ll be asked to provide your email address so that the seller can complete your order. From there, you enter your delivery information and payment method, and after reviewing your details you can place the order.
Instagram takes it a step further by also hosting all your payment information in the app after your first purchase, making it easier for succeeding transactions on the app. Customers will also be receiving push notifications regarding shipment and delivery right from the app itself.
Previously, completing a purchase on Instagram has required using a pop-up web view on the retailer’s site, where users are more likely to abandon their shopping carts in frustration. Instagram hopes that allowing people to complete their purchases inside the app will inspire them to shop more — and to create a big new business for parent company Facebook, which has recently signaled that it expects commerce and payments to represent the future of the company.
For now, payment information stored with Facebook Inc. will only be used on Instagram. But it’s easy to imagine Facebook letting you use your credentials elsewhere in its family of apps. (The company is also working on a separate payments product involving the blockchain and WhatsApp.) In the meantime, Facebook says it won’t share your payment information with other users or with retailers.
Instagram believes shopping represents a massive new business opportunity. The Vergereported last year that the company is building a standalone shopping app. It also said Monday that 130 million people a month tap on product tags in shopping posts.
In Asia alone, Instagram holds a special place in e-commerce penetration, serving as a gateway avenue for customers to try online shopping instead of going direct with massive e-tailers like Lazada and Shopee. Back in 2016, Instagram, along with other social apps like Line and WeChat, already account for 30% of all online sales across the region.
For now, only organic posts from the launch partner merchants will feature Checkout buttons, and ads aren’t eligible. To be able to sell on the app, Instagram wants merchants to pay for transaction fees in exchange for higher purchase conversion rates rather than forcing users to pay a convenience fee for buying through the app.
The fee structure will be implemented only to the selected 23 brands in beta.