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May 23, 2019
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Instagram Shopping gives retailers a chance to boost impulse buys say analysts

May 23, 2019

As use of Instagram as a direct shopping channel increases, the opportunity for brands to capitalise on impulse purchases is growing too, according to analysts.

Instagram Shopping is a key channel for impulse fashion buys

Some 38.7% of online shoppers aged between 16 and 24 have used Instagram Shopping to buy, and retailers targeting this demographic “should recognise the potential of social media beyond a marketing tool and as an additional sales platform that is especially effective at driving impulse purchases,” according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

At present, Instagram Shopping is a tool that allows retailers to tag items featured in their Instagram posts, so consumers cam click on the product to get through to the specific page on a retailer’s website. But Instagram is developing its offer and shopping directly within the app is now possible for some brands, further adding to the impulse buy potential.

Retail analyst Emily Salter said of all this: “Retailers targeting young consumers need to seize the opportunity created by the new shopping habits of this demographic as they increasingly use Instagram Shopping as a platform to make purchases. Using the tool, retailers can promote specific products to a huge number of followers (for example, H&M and Asos have 30m and 9.3m respectively) and engaged shoppers, in particular boosting impulse purchases.”

The extra value of Instagram for impulse buys also comes from the fact that every user’s Instagram journey is heavily personalised as they can follow retailers and hashtags they’re interested in specifically and use the Explore function to search content themes, view relevant posts and search for accounts, tags and places. “The content seen is therefore refined so consumers are more exposed to relevant products than they may be on a retailer’s website or app, unless personalisation is effectively employed,” GlobalData added.

While it quoted two of the giants of fashion retail as examples of brands that have huge Instagram followings, the researchers also said that the channel is key “for smaller retailers without the resources or ability to use personalisation or develop an effective and attractive app.” That’s because Instagram Shopping “offers a way to boost mobile sales with less investment.”

And Instagram is also important as it’s one of the quickest ways to tap the trend momentum. “Instagram presents retailers with a means to react quickly to trends by highlighting popular and talked-about pieces as they emerge, and engage with consumers to build brand loyalty – especially important in the highly competitive young fashion market,” GlobalData said.

But Salter also warned that riding the wave of the social media channel could go badly wrong if retailers don’t adjust their business models to ensure they have the means to meet sudden demand.

“Stock availability is vital to ensure the effective use of Instagram Shopping, as the products featured and tagged [there will] have heightened visibility compared to the rest of the retailer’s products,” Salter added. “Retailers should be prepared for greater popularity of featured items and use forecasts based on previous reactions to avoid stock selling out too quickly.”

She cited M&S having mentioned products on Instagram Shopping that rapidly sell out, “leading to numerous comments from frustrated shoppers, creating a more negative perception of the shopping experience.”

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