Exclusive: Instagram has been piloting a ‘shop’ tab in India

Instagram Shopping in India is almost a reality now. The photo-sharing app has been piloting a ‘shop’ tab with select brands in the country for around six months, according to two people familiar with the matter. This has been slowly getting rolled out to other brands in stages depending on the strength of the Facebook and Instagram presence of their verified business account, added the people cited above.

Currently, the ‘shop’ tab redirects users to the brand’s or seller’s website where they can complete the transaction. Later this year, Instagram plans to add payment options so that the user can complete the transaction within Instagram itself with delivery being taken care of by the vendor, said two people familiar with the firm’s plans.   

“Currently it is being redirected to our website from Instagram and we are not paying anything for it,” said one of the brands working with Instagram, requesting anonymity. “They charge merchants in the US for this, but it is unclear on when or whether they will do this in India as well.”

Currently when a user goes to the shop tab, the app opens into images — which when hovered at reveal the price of the product. Then the user can click on the product and will be redirected to the original product website.   

Instagram

The final goal of Instagram, however, is to be able to allow users to check out on the app itself without having to redirect them to the seller’s website. The feature known as “Checkout with Instagram” went live in the US in March, charging a ‘selling fee’ for merchants selling products this way.

“Shopping is happening on Instagram today, as people click on organic shopping posts from brands on Instagram Feed or Stories, which are through a one-of-a-kind tagging of products in the post itself. People also discover products and services through Instagram Explore,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

India is the second largest market for Instagram with 73 million users after the United States which has 116 million users, as of October 2019. This makes it important for the photo-sharing app to target Indian users through shopping as it will help them increase the app usage time and will also help them earn revenues from the merchants.

“Currently the shop tab is not really giving us a lot of traffic because it’s mostly organic and users have to go to a separate tab to explore shopping,” said an owner of a brand that has Instagram ‘shop’ rolled out to them, requesting anonymity. “I think it will gain a lot more traction in the next 12 months or so.”

Some of the brands that are available include Myntra, Nykaa and Faballey, among many others. 

Experts tracking the space believe that Instagram shopping will only fully take off once the user is able to have an end-to-end shopping experience within the app itself — browse pictures, click to add to cart and pay using WhatsApp Pay or other modes of payment. 

“Without the Instagram checkout option being available in India, a user clicking the buy button currently has to exit Instagram, land on a brand’s website and then enter his/her address and payment details to make a purchase, the friction is still large enough to not make it the most optimal experience,” said Himanshu Gupta, a digital marketing professional, who previously headed marketing for WeChat in India. 

In the present form, the buy button is mostly useful for creators and brands which already have a dedicated community base formed on Instagram to direct their followers to easily purchase their merchandise and products.” 

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Exclusive: Instagram has been piloting a ‘shop’ tab in India

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