Instagram has just introduced Checkout, an exciting new feature that could change the way brands sell across social media.
Okay, it’s not entirely new, but it’s accessible to the majority of us for the first time. Instagram first announced Checkout in March of 2019. The feature allows users to buy a product directly from an Instagram post. Previously this was only available to a select group of 26 brands including Dior, Nike, and Warby Parker.
And now, Instagram is rolling out Checkout to all eligible businesses and creators in the United States. That means businesses of all sizes can use the platform to sell products, even if they only have a small following.
If customers see something they like from a brand, they can order in just three clicks. Tapping on the post opens up more information about the product with a “Checkout on Instagram” option, allowing people to enter their info and place an order. After their first time making a purchase, customer information is stored within Instagram, making subsequent orders even easier.
What Are the Most Important Updates?
The biggest change is that Checkout is now open to a lot more businesses. If maintaining a mobile storefront has been a challenge, a brand can take advantage of a feature that’s already built for mobile devices.
Checkout will likely have fewer cart abandonments, too, since users don’t have to regularly type in their credit card and contact information. There’s no step to log in, other than logging into Instagram. Since most Instagram users are permanently logged in via their phones, there’s less chance of them getting frustrated and leaving in the middle of the checkout process.
Instagram is also putting more focus into its @shop Twitter handle, which highlights content from brands using features of the platform, including Checkout. The account has several hundred thousand followers so being featured is a quick way to expand your audience.
When Checkout first rolled out, brands could only offer products and services directly in posts. As the feature opens up to all businesses, brands can now also sell through Instagram Live. That means customers can buy products in real-time. This opens up a lot of interesting use cases for Live, including working with influencers.
A Game Changer for Working with Influencers
For now, Instagram Live doesn’t offer any kind of affiliate program for influencers. But content creators shouldn’t fear; this new update could actually be helpful for business.
In the past, content creators have had to drive people to another site if they wanted to buy something. Even with a feature like Linkin.bio, fans still need to see a post, visit that user’s profile, click on a bio link to go to a new site, click on another link within the site, and then enter in all of their billing and shipping info to make their purchase.
Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? To reduce the number of platforms a fan has to visit and clicks they have to make is a big deal for content creators and brands alike.
Additionally, some influencers may already have the Shopping from Creators functionality, easily allowing followers to share products and services with their fans. Those fans can click on the shopping tag and make a purchase without leaving the app. For brands looking to expand their influencer marketing, Shopping works well in tandem with Checkout.
Influencer collaboration deals may look a bit different, too. Influencers can charge more to link to products in their posts. They can also partner with brands to set up their own kind of affiliate sales program. An influencer with an engaged audience could drive several additional purchases from their fanbase, so offering a percentage of sales or clicks makes sense for Instagram Checkout.
Brands and influencers have already gotten creative with their partnerships during the pandemic. Checkout offers both a new way to innovate.
Be Wary of the Downsides
Instagram Checkout delivers a lot of exciting potential but there are a few downsides to be aware of, too. Per the Facebook Business Help Center, all Commerce Manager sales will include a 5% fee, or a flat 40 cent fee for all items that cost $8 or less.
For example, on an item that costs $50, you’d keep $47.50 and the remaining $2.50 would go to Instagram. On an item that costs $6, you’d keep $5.60 and 40 cents would go to Instagram.
Those fees can quickly add up, especially on pricier items. The 5% fee is higher than most other payment processors that you might use for sales directly from your website.
However, it’s worth noting that Facebook has waived these fees throughout the rest of the year. That gives brands an opportunity to dip their toes in the water to see how Checkout can positively impact their business without having some of their sales taken away.
One other downside to Instagram Checkout? You don’t own your customer data. Instagram handles all of the interactions, so you won’t have access to valuable information like customer names or emails.
You won’t be totally in the dark; you’ll get to see things like cart values. But missing out on customer emails is a big deal; make sure you’re aware of it as you’re setting up shop.
How to Maximize Your Instagram Checkout Experience
Simply by being on Instagram, brands are on the right track to finding more customers. Eighty-three percent of users say Instagram helps them discover new products or services, while 80% said the channel helps them buy a product or service.
But there are a few key strategies to bring the Checkout experience front and center for your customers—and to maximize your potential sales.
- A steady stream of product tags: For U.S. customers, brands can no longer tag products with links to an external website. Instead, those tags will open up Checkout right within Instagram. By adding tags to all posts and Live videos, you’re making it obvious to customers that they can learn more about your products and shop with a simple tap.
- Clear CTAs: Another way to make Checkout obvious? Tell your audience directly about it. Your Instagram posts should already be using calls to action (CTAs) in some form; with Checkout, the CTA can encourage customers to tap to shop your posts. And remember to use CTAs as hashtags. For instance, #taptoshop is already picking up steam.
- Don’t forget video: Video continues to rise in popularity on Instagram, with an 80% year-over-year increase of user time spent watching videos on the platform. The introduction of Reels only reaffirms the attention Instagram is giving to video content. Sprinkle in product video posts—like a tutorial, a sizzle reel, or a unique way to use your product—and watch your reach grow.
- Give an exclusive Instagram offer: Not all of your customers are following you on Instagram. Reward the ones who are by dropping a product or service that can only be found on the platform. Those fans will feel valued and may also share it with their friends. “Hey, did you see what this brand is doing on Instagram?” takes little effort on a user’s end, but can have endless value for you.
Paired with Facebook Shops, Instagram Checkout offers a two-pronged sales arm across social media. With customers seeking more flexibility and brands meeting them on the platforms they use the most, having another avenue to sell to them is a good thing for brands.