The shopping function becomes very interesting when it relates to video. Coupled with Instagram's reported plans to launch its own exclusive longer-length series, it's plausible to think that one day a person could be watching a show on Instagram, see an actor or social media star wearing or using a certain product, and then tap on the link to buy that item directly.
Although the buy links are free for companies to use, if more customers start shopping through Instagram it could get marketers to move their money to the platform. This click-to-shop feature could be a more compelling way to get to shoppers than a traditional TV commercial, allowing the Facebook company to dip into the nearly $70 billion brands are expected to spend on commercials this year according to eMarketer.
Instagram overall has 800 million daily active users — the Instagram Stories feature alone has 300 million daily users. It is especially popular with young adults, with 71 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds using the app according to Pew. Instagram Stories could be a way to get products in front of an audience that's watching less TV.
Allowing sales from Instagram Stories could also take money away from Google's YouTube, which has its own shoppable feature. And it makes it a stronger competitor to Snap, which recently allowed direct shopping from its Snapchat lenses.
The new Instagram Stories shopping feature is only available for businesses, not individual sellers or consumers trying to get affiliate payments. Moreover, companies can only directly link to products they sell themselves, meaning they won't be able to sell through a third-party retailer for now. The feature also does not allow targeting to a specific audience, meaning most people who see the shopping-link enabled posts would have already been following the company on Instagram.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.