Instagram shopping – how to buy and sell

Instagram Shopping

Introduction of Instagram Shopping

On 20th March 2018 Instagram Shopping feature was rolled out in 8 new countries – United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil. This expansion followed one year trial in United States, so at the time being it can be considered as stable and well tested.

Important: this feature is available only on Instagram app. Web version of this social media doesn’t support it.

Is there value for buyers and sellers?

What changes for potential buyers – in other words, for every single Instagram user? If you follow your favourite brands or try to discover new, independent shops, everything remains the same as it used to be. With one small but significant exception. Option to view shoppable products in posts.

Instagram Shopping - Instagram Product

This function allows to see all products visible on the picture. With their prices, links to detailed product description and option to buy. Example:

Instagram Shopping - Instagram Product with Price Tag

No more scrolling through description hoping to find price, switching to company bio to find link, search for product on company website… With all that hassle I wouldn’t bother unless I was really desperate to get it. But if all that process was simplified, I could give a try. And now it is.

If this new experience gets customers where they want with just two or three taps, that’s valuable. And if that makes customers happy, that makes sellers even more happy.

How to buy on Instagram?

Once you get into your favourite brand account, you can find small icon of shopping bag in upper right corner of some pictures. It indicates that this post contain shoppable tags. If you’re interested only in this type of post, you can click Shop button to show only price-tagged pictures.

All examples are from Instagram account:

https://www.instagram.com/sebixltd/

Instagram Shopping - Sebix Account on Instagram

When you apply this filter, there’s no more bag icon shown on pictures, as obviously all of them are shoppable.

Instagram Shopping - Shoppable Products on Instagram

From this point we can tap on product, tap to check price then tap on price to get more details.

Instagram Shopping - Instagram Product with Shop Now Option

This gives you possibility to get detailed product description without leaving social media.  If you like, you can now tap Shop Now to get into product page on company website.

Instagram Shopping - Sebix Shop Product PageSimple, isn’t it? 😉

Who can sell on Instagram?

Any company selling physical goods. There are no restriction other then that, however read carefully next section.

Selling. Before you start…

In order to have Instagram shopping enabled, there are some prerequisites required:

  • Company needs to have e-commerce platform. It can be bespoken solution or one of popular e-commerce solution. I would advice using platform with Facebook and Instagram integration supported, as this simplify entire process significantly.
  • You need to have Facebook page for your company.
  • Facebook page needs to contain product catalogue integrated with company e-shop. But as I said earlier – all major shopping platforms offer such integration. So you can have this type of catalogue created automatically with just a few clicks.

Instagram Shopping - Facebook Page with Products

Example screenshot from page: https://www.facebook.com/sebixltd/

  • There are certain rules specifying what products can be listed on Facebook, so once these products are approved, there’s no need for further verification made by Instagram. You can read about some annoying Facebook practices in my post How I was censored by Facebook
  • Company needs to have Instagram account, and this account needs to be linked with Facebook page (instructions to do that: https://help.instagram.com/356902681064399).
  • E-commerce platform used needs to have Instagram integration installed and activated. This can be either native functionality or provided by external plugin. This probably applies to most small and medium businesses. If you use bespoken solution, talk to your developer – they will apply relevant solution or advice on manual process.

Posting images for Instagram Shopping

In previous section I mentioned that you need to activate integration functionality in your shop. Once it’s done, Instagram keeps you waiting for a few days to have your account reviewed. In my case it took 2 working days to get approval.

After approval, you will get new functionality added to your account interface (remember to have you app up to date to use it!).

Entire process of adding pictures looks exactly the same as previously.

Instagram Shopping - Adding Photo on Instagram

This is followed by usual graphic enhancements, and then we go to well known page where we can add all information related to post. With Instagram Shopping enabled, we’re getting additional feature to tag products.

Instagram Shopping - Tag Product on Instagram

After tapping this option, we’re getting access to product list from company Facebook account, so it is possible now to associate picture with relevant product.

Instagram Shopping - Tagging Product on Instagram

And in final step, we need to tap product to tag relevant part of picture. There is possibility to tag up to 5 items on one image.

Instagram Shopping - Product Tagged on Instagram

That’s all. With everything set up correctly, making posts shoppable is as quick and easy as adding location. One detail worth mentioning is that Shop tab in business account will appear only after adding at least 9 products tagged

Advertisement and marketing

At the time of releasing Instagram Shopping, there is no option of promoting this type of posts. The ability to tag products in posts is only available in organic posts. We may like it or not, but I’m sure it’s just matter of time and this type of ads will become available.

Will shopping through Instagram become popular? I’m sure we all find out soon, and if you have any thoughts on this, please leave your comment.

And if you are on Instagram, please find (and follow if you like) these two accounts:

 

 

Planning is great, but…

Devon Landscape with River

Let me tell you a story. It was years ago in a small town in Wiltshire, when I had one Friday evening without any plans at all. And was just walking with my friend around the town. Without any special purpose. Suddenly appeared option to come for weekend to friends in Bristol. So I was asked if I wanted to go and informed that if I did, then train to Bristol was expected in 5 minutes, so I had to decide quick.

It was nice weekend. Other surprise was that after night in Bristol we went to Devon for 2 days.

Waterfall somewhere in Devon

We went completely unprepared and it ended up to be quite nice time. I even tried surfing for the first time in my life.

In business, every professional book says that everything should be planned. Business plan comes first, followed by plenty of detailed plans, strategies and all sorts of formalised TO DO lists. The same applies to professional blogging – scheduled posts and tweets and lists of topics to cover for next half year are common.

It is all good.

But… When unexpected opportunity appears, f**k schedules and go ahead! There’s no such thing like coincidence – if something appears in our life, there must be reason for that. Don’t overthink such chances, just trust your feelings and make us of them. All in all, deep inside we always know what’s right.

 

Extra: Some unusual music I found this week. My recent chance to try something new.

Why do I read blogs?

Almost every blogger in their lifetime wrote a post why did they start blogging. In this post I’m going to show opposite side and write about my reasons to read blogs. Please find below a list of magic 10 points why I like to spend time on this type of literature:

  1. I have time for it. Sometimes. Side effect of my professional work – I often need to wait for some tests to be completed. It’s usually too little time to start other tasks but enough for quick read.
  2. More waiting on many different occasions means more time for reading. Especially if I’m kind of grounded and cannot do anything else. Like waiting for MOT to be completed. However with more time available books win over blogs, sorry.
  3. I like to learn. Specialised blogs are great for this purpose. These can be technical, business oriented, about social media and more. And its possible to find anything from beginner level up to highly advanced, professional articles.
  4. I need entertainment sometimes as well. So I read some posts just for fun.
  5. I enjoy some posts as form of art, either due to specific writing style or interesting graphics/photos. With bigger focus on writing anyway.
  6. I like motivational posts, they give me – guess what – motivation to do more. Incredibly useful when level of energy is low. And regular reading of such posts changes thinking in positive way, highly recommended!
  7. I can learn from others how to write blog. I’m newbie.
  8. It is possible to find new ideas, get inspiration and move forward. More about it can be found in post Where to find inspiration?
  9. It is good that there’s always possibility to leave comment and read some other comments – they’re quite often as interesting as post itself.
  10. The last point is that in many blogs I like personal approach to some topics – it is interesting to read someone’s view based on experience.

 

They were my reasons to read. If you ever doubt if it’s worth blogging – let them be your reason to write.

 

Extra: song from a band who also like to read and have lyrics inspired by books. I’m sure you know, what books:

 

When is the best time to start business?

If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ve already thought about starting your own business. Or maybe you’re thinking about it now. Or maybe you’re not sure if it’s a good idea and you’re doing some research to find out. In any case, learning from someone’s experience is always great idea. Let me share my experience then and I’ll be happy to read your comment if you find it useful. Or if you disagree.

Going to the point, the only correct answer to question in post title is:

NOW

No? Why not? I can assure you, there will be always many reasons to postpone this decision. Find below 10 most common excuses and how to deal with them.

1. I have no money.

Or too little money. Not enough. The true is, that money is just one of factors needed to run business and there are a few ways to get funds for your business:

  • Private savings
  • Personal / Business Loan
  • Grants
  • Investors
  • Crowd funding

And finally, re-think your business model to start with small projects (less money needed) and then move to bigger investments.

2. I have no idea for business.

Sit down and think. Still nothing? Get ideas from friends, family, Internet. Or go other route – business is not always about new inventions. You can improve existing ideas, make them different, add some extra value – it works for many businesses.

3. I have no idea about running business.

This is skill like any other and can be learnt as any other. Sign up for course, go to university, read and watch professional materials. Find other entrepreneur to be your mentor and adviser. That’s theory. But you will never learn anything properly without practice – that’s actually good reason to start business, not to avoid it.

4. I’m afraid of financial instability.

This is unavoidable. There will be ups an downs for sure, important skill to gain is how to manage that. At the beginning, this risk can be limited by running business part time only with full time job. Or full time business with part time job.

5. I’m afraid of failure.

According to statistics, 90% startups fail. But also according to statistics, most successful entrepreneurs experienced failures during their careers. They succeeded because they didn’t give up and started over. Remember Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

6. I’m not sure if my product / service is good.

Make research and find out. Ask family and friends for opinion or ask for independent review. Bloggers are good choice if you’re looking for professional review, check this one (about my shop) as example:

SEBIX CLOTHING REVIEW

Make adjustments and improvements if necessary. Your product doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be good enough to make your customer happy. So don’t focus just on product but also on customer needs, maybe you can actually have what they want.

7. I can’t compete with big corporations.

No you can’t. Don’t even try to. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Surprising? Some customers are looking for different experience, which can be provided only by small businesses. This can be through customised or unique products, special deals and the most important – exceptional customer service.

8. I have no time for it.

Improve your time management. This article can be helpful:

How to find more time?

9. I’m too young / too old for that.

Some people start businesses on retirement, some as early as secondary school (I bet there are some exception starting even earlier). I don’t buy this as excuse then. Go on.

10. I think I should wait until I’m ready.

That’s called procrastinating. Change it into planning instead. Getting ideas and making business plan will make you ready. If you’re aware of any activities required before starting your business – you’re ready. You know what to do step by step. So go and do it. Now.

 

As extra, one old song about problem with important decision:

 

 

Where to find inspiration?

If it happens to you that you feel like you stuck, it can look bad. Sometimes situation can look just hopeless. The good news is, big change is just around the corner.

If we realise that we stuck and don’t know what to do next, that’s surprisingly good. It means that we’ve already asked right question and now are seeking an answer. It means that we’ve already made first, most important step in right direction.

I’ve found myself in such situation several times and I’m sure there will be more. But it is possible to handle that. All we need is inspiration. Solid kick to move forward. Let me share 10 ideas how to get unstuck.

  1. Make a list of ideas. Have no ideas? Try other points and come back to making list later.
  2. Read books. It boosts imagination.
  3. Try something new. Completely new. If you work in the office, try painting. If you’re an artist, try new sport. Anything to break daily routine.
  4. Change your usual environment. Find new places and meet new people. Visit your friends living far away. This was one nice place to be:Bridge
  5. In need of big changes? Move to other city or other country.
  6. Change your job. Or get another one. Or start your business. Try at least some new tasks in your current job.
  7. Do something for fun. What I did once, was writing funny post: True reason for starting business is… I got also a few funny items for my shop (Men’s Underwear).
  8. Find something new to learn. If not new, then deepen your knowledge in your favourite area.
  9. Think what you wanted to do as a child or teenager. Do it. Be sure to leave comment here what was that 🙂
  10. Surprise someone.

I think I tried all above. I also believe that if anything else could be inspirational, it’s worth trying. I’m going to find it if I haven’t already.

Trying some unusual music can be also inspirational:

 

How to find more time?

I must disappoint you: it is not possible. But read on.

There will never be more than 24 hours during one day. Actually, once a year it can be 25 (in some countries) and it happens on last Saturday of October. It may be not enough for big plans unless these big plans are limited to just this one special night.

Many of us complain that there’s not enough time for many things. I’m no better – I couldn’t find time to write this blog post for too long. There is some solution needed then. As it is not possible to add extra hours to our days, the only option is to make better use of what we have already. To achieve that, we can make improvement in two major areas:

  1. Focus and allocate time for what is really important.
  2. Reduce time wasted.

Let’s discuss first point first. To not reinvent wheel, we can use famous Eisenhower matrix to categorise our activities:

Eisenhower Matrix

  • First quadrant shows all emergencies as well as activities postponed so long, that we are now five minutes before deadline. Things that just have to be done now.
  • Second category occupy all important stuff defined as long term goals, plans for future, everything what matters but doesn’t need to be done now. What is missing in many publications is that it is usually good to have such activities planned for specific time frame, even if it could change later. Setting goals like buying house in ten year’s time is something we can relate to. If we say it will be done just “in the future”, there’s no way to evaluate progress, to prepare when time comes and to measure if we’re close to completion. Even if we miss predicted goal, we can take a lesson from that and make improvements for next goals. Have your goals always clearly specified. Adjust later if required.
  • Things not important but seen as urgent. There’s usually urgent for someone else, never important to you. Ignore them. Or delegate, if possible. Or reschedule. Find any excuse to not put your energy into them.
  • Last category belongs to all time wasters but it’s worth separate discussion.

File:The Persistence of Memory.jpg

Salvador Dali: The Persistence of Memory. Source: Wikipedia

Time wasters.

We’re getting to second point mentioned at the beginning. To properly identify time wasters, it is good to make journal for all activities we perform and how much time they take. Try to make notes for just one week – how much time you spend for planned and unplanned activities and what they are. You may be surprised. All of us can recall moments where we started to scroll through social media and few hours passed, or switched on TV for a few minutes but switched it off after no less than few hours.

This is actually this extra time we really need and we are always short of.

Another fact missing in publications – do not feel guilty if you perform activities commonly shown as examples of time wasters. We are not robots and we all need to take a rest and do something just for pleasure. Key factor is to do it consciously. If I decide to spend evening playing computer games or watching TV – that’s conscious and PLANNED. And if I feel that I really need it, it goes into category of IMPORTANT activities. But if I start watching one short film on YouTube and switch it off after a few hours, that’s different story. Not planned, not intended and probably not needed. Wasted.

Being aware of all actions we do is a key.

A few more practical tips for time management:

  • Be realistic allocating time for your activities. Don’t be over-optimistic, especially if you’re going to do something first time.
  • Allocate some extra time for unexpected issues related to your plans.
  • Never sacrifice your health to get more time – sleeping less or skipping meals is not the way to get extra time. You may lose it later in hospital.
  • Don’t focus on work only – there are other aspects of life as well. Find time for friends and family.
  • Allocate time for reading blogs.

Alternatively, if you desperately need more time – take a little bit from Pink Floyd:

My biggest challenge: communication

Fashion But How - Communication Challenge

The nature of all blogs is that they’re always more or less personal. Let me share something personal as well.

We all have some skills, some areas where we are simply excellent. I can learn new programming language in one evening and start using it on advanced level next day. I knew people could play guitar song after hearing it just a few times. They needed just one evening to learn a new song with complicated guitar solo included. Some people can gain 1000 blog followers within one month. Or week. Everyone has something.

On the other side there are our weaknesses – something we struggle with, activities we’re trying to avoid and areas of life which looks like shouting to us “STAY AWAY!”. These are sometimes just our fears, things we’re not going to try and explore just because we’re afraid of failure. Afraid of being exposed as those who failed.

Fashion But How - Fear

(Photograph: Sebastian Proch)

I’m afraid of my insufficient communication skills. Social awkwardness. Far from perfect writing style, not to mention public speeches.

I started my small business a few months ago being aware that the best business leaders in history were great speakers. Personalities of rock stars, business celebrities from front pages of magazines. Get Steve Jobs as example. I’m as close to this level as to shores of New Zealand.

Fashion But How - Distance to New Zealand

(Map by Google, artwork by me)

Having all odds against me, I decided to accept this challenge. The biggest challenge for me in recent years, difficult as hell, but I’m determined to succeed. And through this blog I did first step.

If you’re also the one who struggles with social situations, set some smaller goals for yourself, make some plan of actions and try. This smaller goals can be:

  • Write a blog post.
  • Share your thoughts commenting other blogs.
  • Post and comment anything on social media.
  • Make a phone call to sort out a problem (with customer service, supplier, manager in your job etc.).
  • Attend meeting. Share your opinions during this meeting.
  • Make some contacts online. Then offline.

If you fail with your attempts, try again. And again. You’ll finally make it. I will make it. One year from today I’ll write blog post to confirm it’s possible.

Be motivated be this song (or have some fun at least):

How I was censored by Facebook

I was looking for wisdom in the Internet. I do it sometimes, and if search for it carefully, a lot of good advice can be found. Wisdom about running Internet business says: advertise on social media. So I decided to give a try and to run advertisement on Facebook. Small campaign, one group of products, 10 pictures of different items (up to the limit). My big team of media experts, IT specialists, photographers, copywriters and other specialists consists of two people. This means a lot of work, but we love it. All was prepared, ad was send for approval – it’s just formality, which usually takes up to 10 minutes. Not bad, waiting… After a several minutes message arrived:

Disapproved.

Reason: Adult content.

Fine, I had one item described as:

Sexy Naked Lady Cotton Boxer Shorts

Fine, I removed “Naked” from the title and tried again. Still rejected. So I guessed they really didn’t like naked woman on this product:

Sebix - Sexy Naked Lady Cotton Boxer Shorts

It may be seen as sexy, funny or artistic but qualifying this as “adult content” is one step too far in my opinion. Provocative? Little bit. But call it “adult content”? Someone’s here is little bit oversensitive, I believe.

I started to look if I was the only victim of Facebook witch hunt and it looks like there was more stories like this, not always related to business. Some of the most famous were:

Blocking picture of 16th-century statue of Neptune (Piazza del Nettuno, Bologna, Italy).

800(Photograph: Paolo Carboni/Creative Commons)

Full article: Facebook blocks photo of Neptune statue for being ‘explicitly sexual’

It appears that for five centuries Italians didn’t realise they had such offensive sculpture it their city. Fortunately Facebook pointed this out and enlightened us, thank you Facebook! We’re probably need to destroy our European culture as it is not acceptable for social media!

Other example:

Removal of ‘offensive’ video made by Swedish Cancer Society. Video was about cancer awareness, but sensitive team of Mr. Zuckerberg again felt offended. Decision: removal.

facebook-censored-cartoon-breast-cancer-600x486

Source: Facebook censored a cartoon breast cancer awareness campaign

No boobs on Facebook, even cartoon ones, unless they’re square. That was organisation response to this censorshit. I guess this made entire FB team finally proud and happy.


zlcpovsn3wrfsk8nbayp

Source: Cancerfonden organisation website

If picture like this was banned, I realised what was the other problem in my collection:

Sebix - Funny Grandpa and Sexy Grandma Boxer Shorts

Source: Funny Grandpa and Sexy Grandma Boxer Shorts

I appealed FB decision, with no luck however. My hard decision: remove. Both.

One advice if you find yourself in similar situation – if you appeal, don’t expect being treated like human or have your questions and doubts answered. The only effort Customer Service made, was send me their policy (copy & paste exercise). And short information which could be understood as “we do what we please and we may remove what we like with no reason or explanation”.

No more funny stuff then, all was swapped for the only safe option:


Sebix - Classic Plain Boxer Shorts

Source: Classic Plain Boxer Shorts

I was also afraid about other items, as on other pictures I’ve got a kissing couple, provocative fruits and even spiders! Who knows, what else could be seen as unacceptable by Almighty Censors. I lost entire day but ad was finally approved.

There’s a lot more examples of people and organisation being banned for so-called “inappropriate” content. We live in society where freedom of speech (and any form of expression) is one of the highest values. Yet we’re being censored by big corporations which decide for us what is appropriate and what is not.

Have you ever experienced censorship in your life? Share your experience in comments, if you can spare few minutes.

A little bit related entertainment on the end – back in 1963, this was song which happened to be truly controversial. It was even banned in one state in that time!

How to gain 5 Facebook followers in just one month

Getting new followers on Facebook is not an easy task. But it’s possible. In this short blog article, I’m going to reveal best kept secret, how to draw attention to your blog. And how to gain not two or three but incredible amount of FIVE followers in just one month!
To achieve that, it is necessary to apply a few basic principles:

  1. Quality & Quantity
    • Make interesting content.
    • Make it regularly. I do it every month. Unless I’m on holiday, then I may need to postpone writing a little. But apart of that – no excuses!
    • Work on your writing style, progress will be visible with time. I know what I’m saying – it’s my 5th post, so I’m almost pro.
    • Make your content shareable. If you can share this post without issues, that proves it is. People may want to share your content but it needs to be technically possible.
    • Have quality pictures. Ideally, make them yourself. I did mine – aren’t they pretty?
  2. Interaction
    • Be responsive. Be active in all threads started on your page.
    • Answer any questions asked.
    • Do it personally, forget autoresponders and other forms of automation – people don’t want to be contacted by robots, unless these robots are R2D2 or C3PO.
    • Follow other blogs, they may follow you back (hey there, I’m still waiting!).
    • Contact influencers. If it fails, become one yourself – with 5 followers you’re one step closer to achieve that!
  3. Promotion
    • Invite your family and friends. Or skip this step – all them should see that you’ve got new FB page and will know what to do.
    • Put link to your FB on blog. It can be found usually on the bottom, but in case you miss it:

Great Facebook Page of my Blog

    • Invest in some advertisement. Unless your pretty sure you can get 5 followers on yourself, advertisement usually works. I invested some money in advertisement for my business and got 3 followers for business page. It works then but best blogs don’t need to pay for traffic.
    • Make blog article about your blog. Sure why not, there are films about films (e.g. “Tropic Thunder”), books featuring writers (most main characters in Stephen King books) and paintings featuring painters, example:

so blog about blogging seems to be right either.

Follow this strategy, and success is guaranteed.

For businesses: I can be hired to repeat this success for you company, as long as your budget is big and you’re not competing with my business. Contact me by Facebook.

And on the end traditionally, piece of beautiful music for you. As a fashion entrepreneur, I’m also really impressed by clothing style of these two ladies:

 

Fashion shop with just one item

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Clothes – we may be passionate about them or really don’t care. Would you believe that some people go step further and admit they hate shopping? Really, I know them. Some of them. Anyway, we need clothes, no matter if we like shopping or not. I was curious, what was the most important / most wanted fashion item for people – we all have our favourites but are they at least similar? So I simply decided to ask. The question was: “Imagine fashion shop with just one item, what would you like it to be?”

And these are some answers I received for my micro-survey:

  • “Combat trousers” – my choice. Practical, durable, convenient. My obsession.
  • “Black cotton summer dress” – answered fashion shop manager, highlighting importance of summer dress being made from cotton. Good point.
  • “T-shirt with train” – said my 3 years old adviser. Actually, first answer was just “with train”, so artwork is top priority here.
  • “Black hoodie” – choice of professional pizza driver. Classic street style. As good and popular as pizza.
  • “Black leggings” – for author of www.fashionandfrappes.com. Coffee lovers like me and didn’t choose combat trousers? I’m surprised! 🙂
  • “Definitely straight leg chinos. They’re so hard to find” – said another blogger. Looking for rarity proves to be original, good!
  • “Dresses with pockets. 100%” – wrote blogger. My favourite answer. Why? This could be both practical and look hot. Simply awesome idea.
  • “Oversized t-shirts!” – answered author of cocotravels.co.uk – she visited already entire world. She must know what’s comfortable. And such t-shirts are really good looking.
  • “Mmm!” – choice of 1.5 half year old fashion expert. I have to admit it is the best idea. Really, I have to! 🙂

It was simple question, but there are a few dimensions of survey outcome:

  1. Social
    • Level of response on different platforms:
      • Twitter – 0%. I guess all are on holiday now, I see no other reason.
      • FB – minimal. But some answer were there (thanks!). It proves to be good platform to share thoughts.
      • Asked directly – 100%. People still like to communicate directly – nice surprise in XXI century.
      • I’m aware my social skills are typical for IT engineer – but watch this space – it’s going to be your favourite blog within one year!
  2. Fashion
    • No common preference – all answers were different. If we combined some ideas, we could get:
      • Black cotton summer dress with pockets
      • Oversized t-shirt with train
    • Black was the only colour mentioned (twice).
  3. Business
    • Always listen to existing / new customers – their preferences may be different than combat trousers. Unbelievable!
    • More seriously, I value all your comments – I need your advice, as I’d love to have something you would love as well. Big thank you!
    • If I had £10 for investment, what would be the best option then? My bet right now is “Mmm!”, I’ve just started looking for supplier! 😀

With regards to visible preference for black colour, something extra for you: