Recent buzz has been spreading in the online news community that Instagram is on the verge of building out a stand-alone shopping app that would enter them heavily into the world of Ecommerce.

While Instagram has yet to confirm these potential plans – and has issued a staunch “no comment” – reports are heavily pointing to this being a primary initiative for the social media giant.

At a high-level, the move makes perfect sense. The Facebook-owned app has over 25 million companies who have profile pages. 2 million of those companies are already using Instagram advertising to drive traffic to their own web stores. The move creates the symmetry of following a brand’s social presence on Instagram and then being able to purchase products direct from that brand within the same environment. Instagram’s platform lends itself to the more “aspirational” components of the shopping experience that go beyond being driven to a third-party web store or shopping on Amazon. It’s yet to be seen if this “one-stop social media-to-purchase” approach could have an impact on the Ecommerce landscape.

The immediate opportunity seems rife for Instagram as they look to capitalize on the fact that 80% of Instagram users follow a business account. With over 800 million total users on Instagram, the time to align this user experience to direct “one-touch” shopping possibilities seems to be now.

While details have been limited on a potential release date or if production may have already begun, the app is rumored to have the working title of “IG Shopping“. The app will allow users and engagers to browse product collections from companies they follow and purchase direct using the stand-alone app.

This isn’t Instagram’s first foray into adding a shopping environment onto its platform. In November 2016, Instagram started testing a shopping feature that rolled out in March 2017. The feature allows any Instagram business post with product-specific tags to include a “tap-to-view” icon within the post that gives a user more product details before being driven offsite to third-party checkout. JackThreads was one of the first test brands to participate in the testing of this feature. Ryan McIntyre, CMO of JackThreads, stated that this feature allowed his company to use Instagram as an “aspirational discovery platform” before purchase.

Another shopping feature on Instagram that is in the testing phase focuses on the Instagram Stories section of the platform. Instagram Story users will be able to click on “shopping stickers” within stories to get additional product info details prior to being driven offsite.

An interesting takeaway from this potential development is how shopping direct through Instagram compares to buying direct from a brand’s own Ecommerce environment that employs platform providers such as Shopify, Magento, etc. As a business, does the ability to use Instagram as a soup-to-nuts Ecomm solution rival building out your own web store environment? What are the benefits to hosting your own shopping environment vs. relying on a social media platform to drive sales? We’ll be following this story up ASAP and with some deep analysis that compares hosting your own Ecommerce solution vs. relying on direct sales through social media platforms. Stay tuned!

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