Instagram Is Becoming a Retail Rockstar

Matthew Dennis
October 14, 2020

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen shopping become more and more ingrained in Instagram’s culture. The platform continues to make updates and provide new features that make it easier for creators, influencers, and brands to sell products to their audiences. 

This is just a small glimpse into the future for the platform. If they continue to add in more of these features—and they continue to be well-received by users—our perception of the app might be in for a change. We’ll likely view Instagram as a hybrid app that is for publishing personal content and retail shopping….kind of like if you could post selfies on

While that statement might be a little far-fetched, let’s take a look back and see how this all started and the latest features they have in store for us! 

Screenshot via Instagram

Shopping on IG began in 2018 with the introduction of the personalized shopping explorer page. This feature drove users to the brand’s website, where they could then buy the product featured in the post, very similar to your standard Facebook website click ad.

This then led to the checkout feature, which changed the game by allowing users to complete a transaction without ever leaving the app. Users still have the option to purchase a product on the brand’s website, but the expectation is that the majority will complete the transaction on the app for the sake of convenience.

Keep in mind that convenience is not exactly the main incentive behind the addition of this feature. This actually allows Instagram to collect selling fees on those purchases that are made directly on the app, providing a whole new revenue stream. At a time when online shopping continues to grow in popularity, there is a lot of money to be made.

This leads us to our latest update: shopping on IGTV. Last week, Instagram launched an update that allows users to make in-app purchases directly from IGTV posts. This feature is a great new way for brands to experiment with short-form video content that showcases their product and allows for quick and easy in-app purchases. I thought that Bryce Durbin from TechCrunch put it brilliantly, saying it’s “like a modern-day QVC aimed at Gen Z and broadcast across smartphones’ small screens.” 

Instagram isn’t the only platform that is putting more focus on social commerce. If you’ve been keeping up with the TikTok drama, you’d know that Walmart is currently attempting to acquire a large stake in TikTok with the intention of creating similar ad campaigns to the ones that will be featured on IGTV. This comes after the major success that Levi’s had earlier this year with their influencer campaign on the platform. 

This trend of shopping features continues to expand on social platforms, and it seems like it’s here to stay. Do you think that these platforms could lean in too much to social commerce? And if so, what are the consequences?