Instagram testing in-app shopping feature

By TechnologyFOXBusiness

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Facebook-owned Instagram wants users to shop directly within its app, as the social media giant puts a larger emphasis on commerce.

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Instagram launched a trial (in a closed beta) on Tuesday of the new feature – called “checkout” – that allows users to shop within the app when they tap to view an item from a brand’s shopping post. Upon viewing an item, users will see a “checkout on Instagram” button, allowing them to pay without ever leaving the app.

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The platform will “securely save” user information after the first purchase, and users will be able to locate shipment and delivery updates directly within the app.

Brands have been able to include product tags on posts since 2017, but previously customers were directed to individual websites.

About 20 brands have signed on with Instagram for the shopping feature – including Dior, H&M, Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Nike and Prada. The feature will extend to more brands in the coming months, according to the company.

The move comes as Facebook attempts to push further into intra-platform commerce transactions.

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said commerce was one of the areas that provided the “most exciting product opportunities,” particularly for Instagram.

“People are already doing a lot of commerce activity and are really interested in following brands,” Zuckerberg said. “I think there's also a very big opportunity in basically enabling the transactions and making it so that the buying experience is good and that when you buy from someone -- from a seller that you know that you can trust them, that you're going to have a good experience and in facilitating and making that go well.”

According to Instagram, about 80 percent of users follow a business account. In the last quarter of 2018, Facebook reported mobile advertising revenue worth $15.5 billion – a 36 percent increase from the year prior – accounting for the vast majority of total ad revenue.

COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company was also working on making ads more “relevant.” This came as the company forecast a deceleration in overall revenue.

“For example, if someone is browsing furniture in Marketplace, we'll try to show them an ad for furniture or a related item,” Sandberg said. “We plan to keep working on this to provide a better experience for people and more value to advertisers over time.”

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According to Facebook, 2.5 billion people use at least one of its apps – Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or Messenger, each month.