Instagram has just released a new checkout button in its mobile app, making it easier for users to buy products directly within Instagram, rather than exiting the platform and visiting retailer sites directly. This feature is being now being tested with twenty major brands, called “Checkout on Instagram.”
Previously, Instagram offered “shoppable posts,” enabling brands to directly link to products “with tags,” which sends end-users to a web checkout to complete the purchase. Checkout on Instagram has generated a lot of interest recently, heralded as a game changer by ValueWalk.
Praise meets controversy
For some, it is a large social media company making the same mistake others have made before, like Pinterest, who was a former early mover in this space. In 2015, Pinterest offered native in-feed commerce, launching to positive headlines.
Major tech media publications like VentureBeat toted Pinterest’s in-feed commerce as the future of the social platform, by building a rich set of consumer purchase data and collecting affiliate fees. It was expected that Pinterest would take a quantum leap in terms of enterprise value and revenue.
Pinterest revamps interest in shoppable posts
Brands didn’t want to hand Pinterest control, purchase data, or margin-crushing affiliate fees, and there is no apparent reason brands would change their tune with Instagram. This is further underscored by a Stifel survey of 1,000 social media consumers revealed 71% of respondents don’t trust Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.
After years of failed experiments with agencies, brands, Etsy, and Shopify, Pinterest has found a native commerce partner in Benja, the upstart commerce network, founded in 2014, which holds may sub-brands under its name including Affordable Jerseys. Benja connects brands with audiences and provides a low-friction commerce experience on the web, social, and mobile.
Pinterest partners with Benja
Benja acts as a “pass-through,” and only captures what’s necessary to process a transaction, relying on an impression-based business model that fits the traditional advertising model of large publishers.
Benja CEO Andrew J. Chapin says, “We look at the work we’re doing, the work [competitor] MikMak has done with Snap, and we see a greater trend.”
Shoppable post uptick
Today, according to Wired, more than 130 million Instagram users are tapping on shoppable posts from brands both large and small, with the number expected to rise.
Wired further goes on to say that, “If you follow a brand like Zara, you might see a post showcasing a new shirt—part branded content, part advertisement—with a tag that shows the item name and pricing.”
The future is yet to be seen
Instagram charges an affiliate fee that has been estimating between 5 to 10 percent. In comparison to most affiliate programs, this is quite expensive for brands. For example, Commission Junction offers fees between 3 to 5 percent.
It remains to be seen what will happen next and if brands have an appetite for Instagram’s affiliate fee—or will we see commerce ad networks like Benja and MikMak increasing their roles within the social media space? Right now, it’s too early to say what will happen.
Social media platforms like Pinterest, Snap, Instagram (rumoured to be building a standalone shopping app) and Facebook will continue expanding their e-commerce offerings.
Meaning that shoppable posts are here to stay and that brands will be fighting to get their share of the pie.