For Instagram's partners, having access to shopping tags allows them to further engage with consumers. Most importantly, it sets up another platform where they can sell products with ease. Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, says this new feature won't be replacing its website or apps anytime soon. That's not only because you can't shop directly through Instagram (yet) but also because he sees it as a complement, not a replacement, to his company's current marketing strategy.
"We don't view this as anything that extreme," he says, "but it does remove friction." Gilboa notes that a lot of Warby Parker customers are already discovering products on Instagram, but up until now there wasn't a simple way for them to capitalize on that engagement. Naturally, Instagram is hoping to alleviate that problem with shopping tags and other recently launched business-focused tools. In August, for example, Instagram started letting business profiles add a "contact" button to their account, which made it simple for followers to call, email or text them without having to search for that information on Google or elsewhere.
While Instagram is now making an official push to keep shoppers glued to its app, some of its actual users (read: not businesses) have been two steps ahead. In recent years, Instagram has become a platform for streetwear resellers, who post anything from Yeezys to highly coveted Air Jordans and sell them directly to anyone interested. "Andre," a reseller whom we interviewed about his unconventional marketplace, said he chose Instagram over eBay because of the one-to-one aspect of it.
Individual resellers have a big presence on Instagram.
Andre isn't the only one doing this either. There are thousands of users mirroring what he does through his Sole Street Sneaker Co account. To some extent, what Instagram is hoping to accomplish with brands and retailers feels akin to that -- namely the direct-to-consumer approach. "There's a lot of different kind of ways we're thinking about this to expand to," says Shah about whether smaller players could ever get access to shopping tags. "Right now we're really only focused on retailers."
Nevertheless, only time will tell how this test plays out for Instagram. Both Shah and Gilboa emphasize that they won't find out if shopping tags are a success until later, but they're confident users will be fond of what this feature and others like it bring to the table. One thing is certain: Instagram is evolving, which may be a hard pill to swallow for people who don't appreciate change and want the app to stay true to its simple roots.
At the end of the day, Shah claims everything Instagram does is with the user in mind first and foremost. Although business partners may play a major role in how the app is shaped, he says it's not the main one. "If it feels really good for the consumer," he adds, "it's going to be good for the brand." You can be the judge of that.