For its next trick, Instagram may be planning to launch a standalone app specifically for shopping.
The Verge reported Sep. 5 that “IG Shopping” (which users will have to download separately from the main Instagram app) will allow people to browse items from businesses and merchants they follow, and buy them directly within the app. Instagram declined to comment.
The Facebook-owned app’s move into social commerce—a space that involves directly purchasing things on social networks—is largely unsurprising. According to Facebook’s last earnings report, Instagram’s existing merchant community is robust, with over 25 million businesses already on the platform, and 80% of users already following at least one business account.
Insta users have also likely seen that it’s been testing an in-app shopping feature since November 2016, which allows merchants to tag products so users can buy straight from a photo. It’s also testing the ability to buy things straight from Instagram Stories.
Facebook has tried in vain to foster a social shopping presence with its struggling Marketplace, the Craigslist-like section of its main app. But with its robust community of indie and designer brands—and the influencers that wear them—it appears that Instagram may be better poised to build a competitive social commerce community. And it’s a lucrative trend to get in front of, with a report from digital research firm Avionos noting that 55% of today’s consumers have purchased something via social media.
This isn’t the first companion app Instagram has released. Over the years, it’s introduced standalone tools for editing photos, like Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout, and more recently it launched IGTV, its foray into long-form video streaming. But we’ll have to see whether consumers are ready to abandon the ease of e-commerce retailers like Amazon for a brand new app.