Imagine having over 1 billion people across the globe being able to access your shop and falling in love with your products.
Well, guess what? You can and you've most likely heard about it before... It's called Instagram.
Among the pictures of the infamous millennial breakfast (avocado toast) or of the "Instagram famous" bunch pretending to live their life as a celebrity z-lister, there is also a boatload of businesses already on there — taking making shapes and forms, so competition is fierce!
Why's it relevant to fashion brands?
Over 96% of the world's fashion brands are already on there. So you're probably reading this rolling your eyes because you're already there... Please, stay with with me.
Now, here's the amazing part. Be sure to load up your website analytics to see how your site's conversion sizes up against this stat... 60% of users discover products through the power of scrolling on Instagram and around 75% of users take action — whatever call to action has been setup in the post (typically a link to the businesses website).
WOW!!! This is an incredible way to acquire customers onto your site with them knowing what they want to buy. Your next challenge is to be able to retain them as a customer or increase their basket value.
Instagram is looking to only get better, in regards to reducing the friction of making a purchase. Before I tell you why, let's just go through a quick checklist to ensure you've optimised your business profile to attract the herd of customers waiting to buy your products (imagine a Black Friday scenario).
Configuring Your Account.
Be sure to switch to a Business Account if you haven't already (assuming you have an Instagram account). Go to the Menu, Settings, Account and at the bottom you should have an option to "Switch to a Business Account".
By switching to a business account, you will unlock functions that make it easier to sell on Instagram. To see the enhanced functionality, go to Settings then go to Business. Here's what you can do:
- Advertise and Promote through Instagram and Facebook, but that's a rabbit hole to explore another time.
- Set up Quick Replies, great for answering queries such as "how long for delivery?" you can set up "delivery" as the trigger word and they'll get an instant repose with "Free next day delivery in the UK" or " £7.99 to get it in as little as an hour" when ever that trigger word is mentioned and so on, the possibilities are endless.
- Shopping. This is by far the most powerful feature for businesses. This allows you to be able to hook up your product catalog (this can be done via Facebook and can be synchronised with your e-commerce platform i.e. Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, etc.) and add your products to posts and stories, meaning that customers can shop products natively on Instagram. When they purchase, they will be taken straight to your landing page to complete the purchase on your site.
I previously mentioned that you'll be able to reach over 1 billion users... There's a lot more to it than that. Mastering Instagram is both an art and a science. In order to rapidly increase interactions you need to do your research.
This includes finding relevant businesses, influencers and customers to follow and engage with that could increase your exposure. Another thing is hashtags. Hashtags feed that beastly algorithm so again, put some time and effort into finding out what works and what doesn't — there's plenty of tools and apps out there that can help.
A lot of this can be learned organically when posting. You'll begin to notice who interacts, similar brands to you and the type of content and copy that works well with your followers. Keep testing and tinkering to find what work best for you.
And don't forget, don't just use instagram just to be popular or on-trend, use it with a clear goal in mind. If it's just for exposure (building up follower count) then focus on that, if it's one of your many channels to acquire customers as part of your omni-channel experience strategy then be crystal clear about how you implement it.
Having millions of followers is pretty cool, right? But you've got to think about how it benefits your business, the latter is a better mindset to have if you want to improve your business metrics.
I've kept you on the edge of your seat for long enough now, let me tell you why Instagram is getting a whole lot better for consumers and then I'll discuss a few pros and cons.
Check It Out.
The product teams of Instagram have learned how detrimental the platform is to e-commerce so they've listened and now they're beginning to deliver.
Last month, Instagram announced that they're now rolling out a checkout feature.
This means that when a consumer sees a product tagged in a post, they be able to add it to their basket and place an order — natively within Instagram. This means that they won't be directed to a retailers landing page to complete the purchase.
Currently the checkout feature is in closed Beta for a little over 20 major retailers and is only available for US-based consumers. It's not entirely clear when this new feature will be publicly available or how quick it'll be rolled out post-beta so there's no need to start flapping just yet.
The Good Bits.
- The friction of placing an order will be reduced dramatically. Meaning that consumers no longer need to register an account on your site, they just need to add addresses and payment details to their instagram account.
- Instagram will be offering Purchase Protection
- This feature will also allow consumers to place as many orders they want with as many retailers as they want all within one environment, keeping the experience consistent
The Not So Good Bits.
- Consumers will no longer land on your site, meaning that they won't be able to experience your brand in full by seeing your other products to add to their basket.
- Instagram has become an incredibly competitive environment for brands and retailers, this feature will lower the barrier of entry even further allowing brands both without any physical presence or their own site — great for them, not so great for already established brands
- Also regarding the competitive landscape, it will become incredibly harder and much more expensive to acquire customers using their advertising platform with more and more competitors doing the same
- Opposing my comment on consistency, it will be difficult to build your own unique experience within the checkout flow, this can be both good and bad
To sum everything up, my advice would be to build your own omni-channel strategy, don't just put all of your focus into one channel such as Instagram just because it generates a lot of attention. You should be able to design the full customer experience by using all marketing, e-commerce channels and customer touch-points as building blocks that complement the customer journey. Be proactive and in control, don't just react to what others are doing in the market. Here's a great explanation of what that means, in English:
"The most fleshed out definition of omni-channel I’ve seen involves allowing in-store visitors to see products and deals on their mobile devices, ship purchases to stores, have in-store purchases shipped to their home, have stores process returns, and allow for exchanges in a physical retail location."
For example, Instagram can be a great way to tell the stories in multiple bitesized chunks of your brand or a current campaign, which features your products that can be purchased directly in your posts or stories. Or better yet, combine the digital and real world to create social events, engaging consumers using various devices — I would love to cover more of this in another post in the future as some real world examples can be very inspiring. Here's one great example as a little teaser:
Let me know your thoughts as usual or if you have anything you feel you could add.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time.