If you’re anything like me, scrolling through your Instagram feed triggers an impulse to buy. A nice pair of jeans, a cool bag, a stylish pair of glasses, the perfect phone case—I see beautiful product shots and immediately start hunting for details on where to buy them. But as natural a fit as shopping from an Instagram image seems to be, the network has always made it incredibly difficult. Even if the user tags the image with the manufacturer’s Instagram handle, tracking down the exact product is an exercise in futility. That’s about to change.
Instagram is testing a way to shop products directly from an image starting on iOS next week. Twenty U.S. brands, including Target, Levi’s, Kate Spade, and Macy’s, will be able to include buying details with their Instagram posts. How it works: Each image will include a new “tap to view” icon on the bttom left. When you tap, tags will appear on the image with names and prices for up to five products. Tap on the tag to pop into a more detailed description of the product while remaining inside Instagram. To actually buy something, tap “Shop now,” which will open a link to the product in Safari.
It’s a much easier, faster process than the old workarounds—like a brand linking to a product page in its Instagram bio for the most recently posted photo.
Instagram said it plans to test product recommendations, a save-for-later feature so you can revisit products, how products are displayed to buyers, and eventually a global rollout.
Instagram isn’t taking a cut from any purchases you make after discovering products in the app, at least in the initial testing phase, Recode reported. And strangely, shopping from retailers’ ads isn’t rolling out yet. I follow a few major brands on Instagram, but ideally this feature would be accessible to every retailer—or maybe even to fashion bloggers, whose images I would shop from a little too often if it were easier. Right now, bloggers use services like Like to Know It, which allows users to sign up to to receive an email with product details every time they like an image. That email includes links to every product, and the bloggers get a cut when you buy something. It’s a useful but inelegant way to shop, especially when Instagram’s built-in method is so seamless.
Instagram’s new shopping feature is rolling out next week for select iOS users in the States.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.