Instagram shopping: how to get started

By observing just a few rules, online shops can benefit from selling their products directly from the platform.

By observing just a few rules, online shops can benefit from selling their products directly from the platform.

Instagram has become much more interesting for online shop owners this year. Using the “Shopping on Instagram” feature, products in photos can be linked directly to your own store. Users can recognize shopping posts by a small shopping bag symbol.

After tapping on the symbol, they are shown the linked products with initial information including the name and price. The next tap takes them to a product description within Instagram. They can then press a “Buy Now” button to take them right to your shop’s mobile product page.

Up to five products can be marked and linked like this in a photo post. Up to 20 links can be placed in each carousel post.

All your shopping posts can also be found on a dedicated tab on your company’s profile page, thus transforming it into your own storefront on Instagram. There are no fees, by the way. The only investment required is your own time and effort. There is also no minimum product catalog size, number of followers or other such restrictions.

Basic conditions to get started

However, Instagram’s shopping function is still tied to a handful of conditions. You will definitely need a business profile. This in turn has to be linked to a Facebook product catalog or a Facebook shop. You can set this up in Business Manager, via Shopify or BigCommerce, or directly on your Facebook page. Only physical products are supported at this time. As such, anyone selling services, downloads, seminars, etc. is currently out of luck.

Once all of these conditions have been met and set up, Instagram starts the approval process. You will receive notification as soon as the feature is available to you. You will also find a corresponding indication on your profile in the app. According to Instagram, this can take a few days or even longer in more complex cases. Once this has been completed, the new “Shopping” item should appear in your settings. This is where you can connect your Instagram profile with the desired product catalog on Facebook.

Then you can link products in photos using the “Tag Products” option and then tapping on them and tagging them in the picture. This essentially works in the same way as tagging people. You can even edit posts that have already been published. Instagram also recommends linking as many products as possible per image in order to arouse the interest of users and get them to “window shop”.

Once you have created at least nine shopping posts, the whole thing will become visible to the users and the new tab will appear on your profile page.

You should then actively draw your followers’ attention to the new feature using a story, for example. Then you should directly indicate the shopping option in the corresponding photo and carousel posts as well. The posts can also be promoted easily using the “Highlight” function.

The bottom line:

Stories are becoming increasingly important and therefore Instagram is planning to add the shopping feature here as well. A limited test is already underway.

The company is also trying out a payment feature. Selected users can configure a payment method such as bank transfer or credit card and use it, for example, to book a hairdresser appointment and pay in advance — all without leaving the app. It is not yet known whether and when this will be available for all users and for Instagram’s shopping feature.

One thing is clear: after taking a good year and a half to develop and test the shopping feature, Instagram is now taking big steps forward.