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Instagram May Be Getting a Shopping Platform: What Retailers and Designers Need to Know

Rumors are circulating that Facebook is building a standalone shopping app for Instagram, which would allow users to shop products they see in posts and maybe in stories. Here's what home furnishings and lighting retailers and interior designers should know.

Alison Martin
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Instagram app on phone
Photo: Pexels

This week, a report from The Verge announced that Facebook was working on a separate shopping app for Instagram, one that would allow users to shop products in posts and even on stories. There's no official word on if or when this app will be released, but the app could make social media shopping easier and bolster home improvement e-commerce sales, which are already growing rapidly.

Here's what home furnishings and lighting retailers and interior designers need to know about Instagram's new development.

The IG Shopping app

IG Shopping — the going name for the planned app — will be a standalone app. Businesses with Instagram profiles will be able to show their products to their followers (you have to be following the business in order to see products), and users will be able to buy directly through the app.

There's definitely potential for Instagram. On a recent earnings call, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said 25 million businesses have Instagram profiles, and two million of those already advertise on the platform. Additionally, four out of five users on Instagram follow at least one business.

As no official details have been released just yet, it's unclear how Instagram's app will function, but it would give users direct access to purchase products they see on Instagram with little search needed — not even a Google search. The app could contribute to the gotta-have-it-now expectations that e-commerce has helped foster — for better or worse, depending on who you ask — and it would be great for businesses with loyal followers. See something you like? Great, buy it here right now. Done. 

For the home design and improvement industry, this could have a big impact on the way consumers buy products — maybe not large casegoods or chandeliers just yet, but definitely table lamps, accessories and maybe even chairs or ottomans. The home improvement industry is already selling well online, and Instagram may offer another direct avenue for consumers who see something they like and want to buy it immediately.

This could also be an avenue for retailers who've struggled to keep an e-commerce site up and running. Depending on how Facebook designs the app, retailers may be able to display their own products on the app and change them out as posts become older. It would encourage more user engagement because they will have to keep coming back every week or month to see what the retailer has posted. It could also urge people to buy now, rather than sitting on it for a little while.

What you can do now

Whether the Instagram shopping app drops or not is not relevant. Facebook knows there's a way to monetize its platform, and one way or another, it'll find a way to do it.

In the meantime, home furnishings and lighting retailers can do a few things:

- Beef up your profile by adding a better description and getting rid of old photos that don't represent your brand.

- Get verified (Instagram now offers this feature).

- Start a social media posting schedule so consumers get used to seeing your posts and expect them.

- Respond to comments and encourage interaction on your posts by asking questions of followers in your descriptions.

Having a robust profile with engaged followers will help no matter what changes Instagram adds. Keep up with regular posting and watch for more updates as this develops.

Tell us: Would you use a shopping app for your business in Instagram offered one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Photo: Pexels

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