Home Articles & Features The impact of social media shopping on online businesses

The impact of social media shopping on online businesses

With the recent launch of Instagram’s new shopping service, retailers and businesses now have the option to sell their products directly on the platform. As one of the biggest and most successful social media platforms in the world, Instagram is set to become a key asset for retailers, with 42% of small businesses reporting that they would prefer to point customers to their Instagram page than to their online store or website. It is predicted that online businesses could benefit greatly from the new feature, with sales expected to rise significantly as a direct result. So, what exactly does this mean for businesses that operate on an online-only or online heavy basis?

What is shoppable Instagram?

Instagram is a growing platform with a strong following worldwide. It’s an ideal platform for brands to connect with their consumers in a way that they once couldn’t. It’s reported that Instagram has over 800 million users, including 25 million business accounts and two million advertisers.

Amy Cole, Instagram’s head of business development, tells Marketing Week: “Brands tell their story in the same way an individual person does, so it creates a direct relationship and levels the playing field for small and big businesses.”

With the introduction of shoppable Instagram, or Shopify, businesses will now be able to link directly to their products in their posts. These “shoppable posts” allow users to click-through these links straight to the website. At the time of research, 600,000 businesses were reported as using Shopify, and more than $63 billion (£48 billion) worth of products has been sold through the platform. But, how can online retailers make the most of the feature?

How will businesses use the feature?

Over the past few months, larger brands have also been granted access to the shopping feature on their Instagram stories and this could soon become available to all businesses on the platform. Currently, 30% of the most viewed stories on Instagram are from brands. This suggests that people enjoy seeing what a business is up to and connecting with their favourite brands in this way. Plus, one third of messages sent through Instagram Direct each month begin with an Instagram Story. Keep your Stories updated and maintain a connection with your customers through this feature as preparation for Shopify on Stories. For instance, why not show your consumers what goes into the making of the latest piece?

The addition of the shopping feature means that businesses will be able to advertise their products in a way that seems more natural to consumers, by showing off their products in their follower’s feeds. This is unlike the other options of Instagram advertising where you choose from photo ads, carousel ads (with multiple pictures), video ads and Stories ads. Encourage users to click-through into the image with a call to action in the caption, such as encouraging them to learn more about the item by following the Shopify button or offering them the option to see more detailed images.

The influence of social media on online sales and business promotion

When purchasing high value items, consumers tend to make a more informed decision and will not typically make a spur of the moment purchase. The interaction that customers can get with their brand through social media therefore plays on this, as it allows them to build a relationship and connect with a brand by following what they do online. In fact, 80% of people follow a business or brand through Instagram and more than 150 million people have a conversation with a business through the platform’s direct messaging feature (Instagram Direct) each month.

One brand reported that 59% of their overall sales were down to Instagram advertising and they say that this is because it allows people to discover the brand naturally on the platform without being exposed to it through other means. Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, social media users can leave comments when they like a piece, or tag someone who they think it would make a nice gift for. Perhaps the purchase won’t happen straight away but situations like this, which wouldn’t occur without social media, start to increase brand awareness.

Social media influencers have also grown in popularity in recent years and Instagram is the perfect platform for this form of marketing. This is where individuals on Instagram with a high number of followers talk about or feature a product in their post — influencing followers to purchase it too. Jewellers can use this strategy and encourage people to feature their products in posts, often leading to an increase in following and interest in the product.

Evidently, social media plays a significant role in allowing online businesses to connect directly with their audience and customers. But, with the introduction of shoppable Instagram, keeping in touch with your customers through the platform could mean more sales as well as increasing brand awareness.

This article was researched by Northumberland based online jewellery retailer Angelic Diamonds.

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