Social Media

Instagram makes it easier to shop on its platform

Shopping on Instagram coming soon

Instagram wants to make it easier for shoppers to learn about, and purchase, products on their smartphones.

Tuesday, the Facebook-owned company is adding a feature for retailers that will allow them to add prices for up to five items in a single post. Clicking on the item will pull up a separate page within the app that gives more information about the product. The additional page also includes a link directly to the retailer's mobile site, where someone can directly purchase the product.

The new features are being tested by 20 brands including Kate Spade, Jack Threads and J.Crew, and are free for Instagram's partners.

"We're preparing for mobile definitely ... [the customer's] journey with us is beginning on her mobile phone. We're certainly doing everything we can to service her on that journey," said Mary Beech, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Kate Spade & Co.

The consumer's move to mobile is real, but brands are still having some difficulties getting them to commit to buying products on their devices. Instagram's internal research found that only 21 percent of people will purchase something within a day of discovering it; the vast majority mull over the decision for a day or longer.

People are researching products on their phones, but by and large not buying there, James Quarles, vice president of monetization at Instagram.

Half of Instagram's 300 million users follow businesses, and 60 percent learn about products on Instagram, Quarles said. The company specifically did not add a direct buy button like competitors including Pinterest have because it wanted to give users the ability to explore more before deciding to purchase the product, he added.

"The [click-through-to-purchase features] we have investigated have felt clunky and not direct for the customer," Kate Spade's Beech said.

Letting users shop on the platform not only shortens loading time, but means users linger in the app, which can lead to higher advertising prices.

Eventually, Instagram hopes to make recommendations based on what users like, and allow users to save content or products on their account, Quarles said. It also hopes to expand the new features outside the U.S., put them in different areas of the app like Explore and Stories, and find ways to integrate the new features into ad products.

"We hope this gives retailers more and more evidence of the power of people on Instagram," Quarles said.