Social commerce has expanded dramatically over the previous few years and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Retail social commerce sales in the United States are anticipated to surpass $80 billion by 2025, according to social commerce statistics provided by eMarketer. It came to little over $46 billion in 2020, which helps put things into better perspective.
Setting up shop on Instagram is a simple method to start selling on social media if you don’t already. When you combine Instagram’s strong emphasis on visual content with social commerce’s rising popularity, you have a fantastic opportunity to investigate online product sales.
Emerging brands can easily expand their exposure and reach a larger target audience thanks to the platform. We have put up this brief, step-by-step starting guide to assist you. A few useful pointers for maximizing this functionality are also provided. Therefore, make sure to read all the way through (or skip to the last part if your Instagram Shop is already open for business).
What is an Instagram Shop?
You may link your product catalog to your Instagram profile via an Instagram shop. This subsequently enables you to advertise your goods to Instagram users directly through posts, Stories, the Explore tab, and a unique Shop button on your profile.
With Instagram Shop, a company may share its carefully picked product catalog and conduct online sales. Users of Instagram will be able to open your shop by clicking the View Shop button that will show on the profile page of your Instagram business account.
Additionally, you can be highlighted on the Instagram Shop tab, which is accessible from the platform’s primary navigation menu. Therefore, users could still be able to find your products even if they don’t click on the View Shop option. Additionally, since the platform takes into account users’ past interactions (such as the companies they follow and the posts they interact with), you have a better chance of connecting with your ideal target market.
The first step to setting up an Instagram Shop is to check if you’re indeed eligible. There are a number of boxes you’ll need to tick in order to qualify. These are:
- Your business (or creator account) must be located in one of the platform’s supported markets. To see if you fall within one of these markets, you can refer to Instagram’s Help Center. If your account doesn’t fall within a suitable market, you may not be able to tag products.
- You must have an eligible product to sell.
- Your eCommerce business has a website domain from where you plan to sell.
- You adhere to the commerce policies and merchant agreement of Instagram.
How to Start an Instagram Shop for Your Store
If you’re eligible, you can proceed to create an Instagram Shop. It’s really straightforward. Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Switch to a creator/business account
If you don’t have a business account yet, you’ll first need to convert your current Instagram account to one. Here’s how:
- Open your Instagram profile and click on the icon with the three lines in the top right-hand corner
- Select “Settings”
- If you don’t see an option to “Switch to a professional account”, select “Account” under which you’ll be able to see this option
- Select “Continue”
- Pick a business category and click on “Done”
- To confirm your choice, select “OK”
- Tap on “Business” and then “Next”
- You can now add your contact info
Step 2: Link your Facebook page
To create an Instagram Shop, you’ll need to link your Facebook page to your Instagram business account (if you don’t have a Facebook page yet, you can follow the same steps below as it will give you the option to create a new page too).
- Open your Instagram profile
- Click on “Edit profile”
- Select “Page” (you’ll find this under “Public business information”)
- From your “Pages”, select the page that you wish to link. Alternatively, if you don’t have a Facebook page yet, you simply select “Create a new Facebook Page”.
One thing to keep in mind when linking these accounts is that you must be listed as the admin of the Facebook page that you want to connect to. If you’re not the admin, the page won’t show up in the drop-down menu.
Not only is this step necessary, but you’ll also be able to unlock more business tools on top of creating an Instagram Shop. You’ll, for example, be able to:
- Promote stories and posts
- Via your Facebook page, you’ll be able to create ads that will show up on Instagram and Facebook (this will help you to reach more people)
- Pay for promotions more conveniently
- Manage your messages via Instagram and Facebook Messenger via a single, unified inbox
- Sync business contact details
- Access cross-app tools like camera effects, appointment booking buttons, and donation stickers
Step 3: Add your product catalog
To be able to start an Instagram Shop, you must have a product catalog that includes all the products that you wish to sell (along with descriptions) and lists of your inventory.
If you use a third-party eCommerce platform like BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, or Shopify, you can integrate it via your platform. This way, you can continue to manage your products via your eCommerce platform and any updates will regularly sync to Facebook/Instagram. If you’ll also be selling via your own eCommerce site, this is the best way as it will make managing inventory much easier.
If you don’t use an eCommerce platform, you’ll have to use the Catalogue Manager via Facebook Business Manager.
Step 4: Review your account
Before you can start selling via Instagram Shop, the platform still needs to approve your account first. After you’ve added your product catalog, here’s what you need to do:
- Click on “Settings” (found below the menu icon)
- Sign up for shopping
- Complete the steps
To follow up on the status of your review, you can go to “Settings” and click on “Shopping”. The review process usually takes only a couple of days, but in some instances, it can take longer. Also, keep an eye out for any notifications. Sometimes a business can be requested to share extra info regarding the ownership of their website domain.
Step 5: Switch on the shopping features
If your account has been given the green light, all that’s left to do is to switch on the shopping features. Here’s how:
- Click on “Settings” (found under the menu icon)
- Click on “Business”
- Select “Shopping”
- Pick the product catalog that you wish to link to your account and click on “Done”
How to Promote Your Shop on Instagram
Only half of the work is done when setting up your Instagram shop. You still need to advertise it, just like you would with any other brick-and-mortar company or eCommerce store. There are many techniques to catch your target audience’s attention, including Instagram Stories and tags. Here are some useful suggestions that you might test out:
The Instagram app has a number of different “Product” stickers that you can use to tag products in an Instagram Story. You can, for example, use translucent text or add a shopping bag icon. While you can’t add these stickers to an Instagram Story that you’ve already published, you can go back and tag a product with a sticker in existing posts.
Include hashtags and calls to action
Using relevant hashtags, like #shoplocal, in your shopping posts can make it easier for your target market to discover your Instagram shop. When done correctly, hashtags can also help you to pop up in the Search and Explore tab where users can click on a Shop tab. In fact, an Instagram for Business survey has revealed that more than 40% of users use the platform once a week to shop. So, there’s a huge market that you can tap into.
However, a hashtag is no replacement for an attention-grabbing call to action that will spur users into action. Examples of effective calls to action that you can try out are:
- Share with a friend
- Get it now
- Buy before it’s gone
- Tap the shopping bag icon to buy
Run an ad campaign
With Instagram Shopping ads, a business can tag a product that’s featured in the ad. If users click on any of these tags, they’ll be redirected to a page where they’ll get more details about the specific products. As users won’t have to leave Instagram and can buy directly from your mobile shop, it makes it easier to take advantage of in-the-moment purchases. To make the most of this valuable retail space, remember to include high-quality product photos as well as relevant tags and hashtags.
Partner with an influencer
In addition to your own Instagram Shopping ads, it’s also a good idea to collaborate with an influencer. You can, for example, ask the influencer to create a special collection of products from your product catalog that they then share with their followers.
Before partnering with an Instagram influencer, there are a few factors that you need to pay attention to, though. Basically, you want to make sure that they’re the real deal. Then, you also want to check that they’re relevant to your brand and its target audience and that they consistently produce and share high-quality content. You can use tools like Iconosquare to get a detailed report of an influencer’s account, their likes and comments history, etc. For influencer marketing to work, authenticity is key.
Leverage user-generated content
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to marketing products on Instagram, your goal should be to create authentic content. If you’re not keen on working with an influencer, another way that you can share authentic content is by reposting another user’s Instagram Story or post that features one of your products (referred to as user-generated content, or UGC, in marketing speak). It’s a great example of social proof that can help to communicate to your target audience that your brand is credible and trustworthy.
Another benefit of using UGC is that it’s a great way to ensure that your brand is inclusive. So, to make it even more effective, make it a priority to share photos that are truly representative of your potential customers. In other words, feature customers of all genders, races, sizes, and abilities.
Apply your branding consistently
The style that you use for your Instagram posts should align with the visuals that your brand shares on its website and other social media platforms. You can even try to pull it through to your packaging. In short, it will help you to create an easily recognizable brand identity that will make it easy for your target audience to spot your content among all the other posts and ads vying for their attention.
That being said, don’t let it stop you from experimenting with color. Using a vibrant color for a background can really help to make your products pop.
Part of your brand identity is your brand voice and personality. When writing your captions and copy, keep it authentic, personal, and informal. For example, sharing a backstory about a product can help you to connect with your customers. Depending on the type of product that you’re selling, another way that you can let your voice and personality shine through is by creating how-to videos that show your product in action.
Share a discount code
Last, but not least, if you have an upcoming sale, don’t forget to share it on Instagram too. It’s as easy as promoting it in the caption of a post or, even better, directly in a shoppable post.
Although selling on Instagram is still rather new, customers are already making use of this additional online shopping option. According to BigCommerce, one of the top eCommerce platforms, roughly a third of online buyers said they were inclined to make a purchase through a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram. Therefore, the idea is winning over more and more people.
The Instagram Shop function will not only enable you to reach a larger audience, but it is also simple to use. The task that requires the most labor is probably marketing your products.