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:

 

 

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.


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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!

Fashion shop with just one item

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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:

True reason for starting business is…

…that I need to do something interesting in life but cannot be a pirate! “Being a pirate is really badass” 🙂 So the original plan was to become a pirate. I asked my 3 year’s old adviser about that and he fully approved that plan. He wants to be a pirate a well. So that sounds like we almost have a crew – good start then. We’ve got locally a friend from Caribbean so we could have a base to hide our treasure chests. And being located in Bristol, we couldn’t dream about better starting point for any high seas expeditions. The only missing bit is a ship – we desperately need one 😀 Unless we’ve got a ship, we’ll be sailing… I mean – selling clothes – there’s no other choice right now 🙂 Next time you’ll buy something from us, shout ‘Yo ho ho’! and smile – you’ll be contributing to future pirate expedition;)

And for every pirate music fan, something extra:

 

 

Gateway to fashion and gateway to the new World

Crazy idea appeared – let’s have our own business. Online business, to be more specific. Fashion business – to be much more specific. This idea was coming to us from time to time as a possible plan but for a distant future.

And one day I woke up and decided – yes, it’s time – we’ll do it. Today. Now.

And it happened. Up and running now – find it here:

Sebix – your gateway to online fashion

Then came idea for this blog, just to write down some ideas, have some fun, share some thought about running business and once again – have some fun. As I believe whatever we decide to do in life, we should have some fun out of it just because having fun makes us happy. Simple 🙂