We have often seen an advertisement on Instagram or a post by an influencer or a digital creator and simply swiped on as usual. The net result, we didn’t buy anything. However, that is completely the opposite of the usual usage behaviour of as many as 94 per cent of Instagram’s billion-strong global user base, who actively searched for more information after seeing a product or a service on Instagram. The Facebook-owned social network cites the data from the research by IPSOS India.
The company also says as many as 95 per cent of its users believe Instagram helps them decide whether they must buy a product or service in the first place. “We hear in research all the time that people already think of Instagram as a place to shop. A place to discover new brands, new products and new services,” says Vishal Shah, VP of Product, Instagram at the IGX session. “And so we're working on ways to make that even easier,” he adds.
Instagram confirms they are looking closely at how Augmented Reality (AR) can be used to make the shopping experience more immersive for potential buyers—the idea being to allow them a scenario where they can virtually try products they want to buy, within the Instagram app itself. “So for us it's not about coming to Instagram when you know you're looking for this jacket and this specific colour and the specific stock in the style and you need the best price,” says Shah, who believes e-commerce platforms are in a better position to do that as it is and that Instagram isn’t trying to compete with them,. Instagram instead wants to focus on making it easier to discover what's trending, be it the latest from a design perspective or something new that a brand may have launched.
However, the challenge is going to be scale, and making the entire shopping experience span across brands and products available to all users. They want to tap the typical “mood to shop”, on a mobile device. At the moment, this experience is limited to the brands that a user may follow on Instagram, and this is where the improved content exploration and discovery will come in handy. “We believe we can bring fabulous brands which you can see with product tags directly in feed to our system. Let advertisers get their shopping product out in front of more people,” adds Shah.
Instagram also gave a very early preview of an AR-based shopping feature they are testing on the app, which would allow users to virtually try out products using the cameras on their phone—the possibilities include buying make-up or even considering a new large-screen 4K TV for your home. “You can always get to the store to try on a colour; lipstick, eyeshadow, make-up, fashion and accessories, eyeglasses, etc. Right now the product is using your front-facing camera. You can imagine the possibilities of using the rear-facing camera,” says Shah.
This feature is currently under testing and it is not yet confirmed when this will roll out for users and which businesses will be a part of the initial launch.