Instagram Checkout: A Thorough Guide
Instagram’s rapid evolution from a fun photo-sharing app to one of the most potent digital marketing tools has been nothing short of stunning. Today, the social media giant boasts numerous features for marketers, and Instagram Checkout is the latest marketing feature set to revolutionize the platform for both buyers and sellers.
In this blog, we’ll cover all that aspiring marketers need to know about using Checkout to make loyal customers out of their Instagram followers.
How does Instagram Checkout work?
Before Instagram rolled out its Checkout feature, it had already given a big boost to brands and influencers by allowing them to create ‘shoppable’ posts. To make posts ‘shoppable’, all those brands and influencers had to do was to add product tags to their posts. Interested Instagram users had to tap on the product tags, which would re-direct them to different eCommerce sites where they could purchase the products.
While these ‘shoppable’ posts did have their advantages, there was one major inconvenience; users had to go out of Instagram to complete their purchases. The idea behind Instagram Checkout was simple; to facilitate shopping within Instagram itself. The feature made its debut back in March 2019, when Insta signed up with 26 world-famous brands (including Nike and Zara) to test it.
The results were successful, which has led to Instagram rolling out the feature for all eligible influencers and businesses in the USA. With more and more businesses taking advantage of Checkout, Instagram is set to go beyond its social media platform status. Soon, it’ll be no less than an eCommerce marketplace.
To use the Instagram Checkout feature, your business has to fulfill certain eligibility requirements:
- The business has to be a seller of physical goods as the feature isn’t available for businesses that offer services.
- The business’ Insta profile should be a business profile.
- The Insta profile is connected to a business page on Facebook.
- The business is compliant with the commerce policies stated by Instagram.
- Boon for smaller businesses: Small businesses that have just started their operations can find it hard to reach out to their target audiences on major eCommerce portals like Amazon. Even though Amazon allows small businesses to list their products on their website, most of the space for promotion is occupied by the big-name players, simply because they have more money to run elaborate campaigns.
However, Instagram Checkout is a gamechanger for small businesses, primarily because Insta is still predominantly a social media platform. Irrespective of the niche your business operates in, your posts will get Instagram likes and shares from pages that are actively interested in your products. As a result, your business and its products will always find takers on the platform.
- Possibilities for Instagram-only businesses: Thanks to the Instagram Checkout feature, an online business can be set up on Instagram without any need for a separate website. While the Insta-only route won’t make much sense for medium and big-sized businesses, it’s something to ponder upon for small businesses.
Yes, owning a dedicated business website can have numerous benefits, but several associated costs may add up to be too expensive for small businesses. eCommerce businesses have to shell out money for their domain names, web hosting services, and the shopping cart software as well. Payment gateways that websites use to process transactions have to be paid as well. However, there are no such expenses to worry about when it comes to Instagram Checkout.
- Support for integration with other sales platforms: If your business has stores on popular online eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce, CommerceHub, and Shopify, you can integrate them with Instagram Checkout easily.
Easy integration facilitates greater consistency levels than ever before for businesses in terms of their logistics and operations. As a result, you’ll be able to spend more time on improving the core aspects of your business instead of worrying about the logistical aspects.
- Fewer barriers for interested buyers: Across many eCommerce websites, the online buying process is complex, with prospective buyers required to complete several steps before they can finalize their purchases. As patience levels of most internet-savvy users are running thin in today’s times, a complex purchasing experience is the last thing that they want. As a result, shopping carts are often abandoned, significantly affecting business’ sales.
However, the Instagram Checkout feature manages to make the buying process incredibly simple. The fact that purchases can be made directly on Instagram without leaving the app is bound to boost sales and increase conversion rates. Also, buyers need to fill in their relevant payment information just once, whereas they have to provide information repeatedly to various brands when shopping from their websites. All in all, Instagram Checkout is just what online impulse buyers needed.
Yes, Instagram Checkout is a promising feature that’s bound to get better with time. While there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start using the feature to make it easy for your real Instagram followers to become loyal customers, there are certain limitations you have to work with as well. Let’s take a closer look at them.
- Transaction fees: Transactions completed through Instagram Checkout would require businesses to shell out 5% for every shipment, which amounts to a fee of $0.50 for every $8 shipment.
- User data handling: If an Instagram user purchases through Instagram Checkout, it’s the social media platform and not the seller that has the right to the customer data. This would mean that businesses lose out on valuable information like customer email IDs that they would use for sending promotional emails and newsletters.
- Restricted control on customer experience: A business with its own website can dictate how it looks, feels, and responds to its users based on the tastes and preferences of its target audience. However, that simply won’t be possible with Instagram Checkout. All that businesses and influencers can control are their ‘shoppable’ posts, which can feel restricting after a while.
How to make the most out of Instagram Checkout
It’s important to remember that Instagram Checkout is still a new feature and with time, it will see improvements. However, considering its potential benefits and limitations, here are a few ways in which influencers, marketers, and businesses can make the most out of it:
- Exclusive product launch on Instagram: Even if your Instagram page has a small but dedicated group of followers, you can work wonders in terms of driving sales by launching a product exclusively on Instagram. Doing this will make your Insta followers feel more valued and appreciated and encourage them to purchase the product.
Exclusive product launches on Instagram can also give you an honest insight into your products’ limitations. Think of it as a test of the product. Depending on how the sales go, you could decide to make the product available on other platforms. If your Instagram followers leave underwhelming reviews, you could work on your product to make it better before you make it available to a bigger audience.
- Collaborate with influencers: If your business has to experience growth beyond its official Instagram page, you’ve got to consider collaborating with influencers. Influencers have their loyal audiences and if you can get word of your products across to them, you can rapidly gain not just new followers but new buyers as well.
However, collaborations with influencers will require you to pay them for every post that they upload to promote your products. The more followers an influencer has, the more he/she charges per post.
- Consistent use of CTAs and product tags: Across all your posts on Insta, ensure that you consistently use calls-to-action (CTA) and product tags. Consistent use of these elements will ensure that your followers know that you’re selling on Insta and they’ll be encouraged to see what you have on offer.
Apart from showcasing your products through images, also include a catchy and concise written description, along with a CTA in the form of a hashtag. For example, numerous businesses and influencers use ‘#taptoshop’ to encourage their followers to purchase products.
- Think of Instagram Checkout as one of many marketing tools: Just because your followers can use Insta’s Checkout feature to purchase your products doesn’t mean that you have to only promote purchases through the platform. For example, if you’ve uploaded a post with a product tag and a CTA in the description, you can also encourage your followers to visit your website, right?
While your website’s address won’t be a clickable link across your post descriptions, it certainly will be in your bio. So including something like ‘check out the bio for the link to the official website’ across all your ‘shoppable’ posts is recommended. Ultimately, you’ve got to remember that Instagram Checkout is one of several marketing tools at your disposal.
Instagram continues to grow bigger with every passing year and with Checkout, it has taken a serious step in bridging the gap between eCommerce and social media platforms. While it does have some limitations, if you look at the bigger picture, there’s no arguing that the positives far outweigh the negatives.
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