Istanbul, Turkey - December 15, 2018: Person holding a brand new Apple iPhone X with Instagram profile on the screen. Instagram is an online mobile social networking service, launched in October 2010.

Social media giant, Instagram is constantly innovating when it comes to its e-commerce friendly functions for retailers.

While the platform was first treated as an online destination to socialise with friends, it has grown rapidly to include a wide range of users and content, including brands, experiences and products.  Its popularity is seeing merchants, both local and from abroad, flock to leverage the platform’s commercial potential in engaging new customers and driving more sales online.

In fact, with over 200 million users visiting at least one business or brand profile every day, it is undoubtedly one of the most important social networks today, and one that Aussie retailers cannot ignore. There is no longer a question of “if” or “but” when it comes to social strategy — Aussie retailers need to prioritise growing a sales channel like Instagram as their right-hand man in order to achieve ecommerce success.

Make it Shoppable

Retailers on Instagram are seeing more engaged customers when integrating Shoppable posts and stories. This feature enables brands to link their catalogue to the products displayed on their profile, so customers can quickly view relevant information, such as product descriptions and pricing. More importantly, it grants instant access to online stores without customers ever having to leave the app. An all-too-perfect recipe to inspire purchases, don’t you think?

Within the first five months of launching Shopping on Instagram, BigCommerce merchants using the feature saw a 50% increase in Instagram referral traffic to their website. We’ve finally reached a point where store referral traffic and sales conversions can actually be driven by and attributed to social. Every detail, from impressions and reach, to likes, comments and saves related to the post can be effortlessly tracked. Instagram offers merchants a seamless social commerce experience where they can directly connect people to their products, fulfilling a long-awaited desire felt by heavy browsers using the platform.

Ticket to the world 

The exponential growth of Instagram combined with shopping has welcomed opportunities for merchants to engage with new audiences like never before. Not surprisingly, a significant 83 per cent of the platform’s users look to it for inspiration and opportunities to connect with the brands they love, no matter where they are based around the globe. There are currently more than 25 million worldwide businesses using the platform to market products — which means whether you are a small, mid-market or large ecommerce merchant, you need to integrate with Instagram if you’re going to be in the game.

Investing in social media influencers, specifically on Instagram, has also become a smart way to grasp the attention of a business’ target audience. Leveraging influencers is an effective tactic to help strengthen brand awareness and drive sales as it provides brands with another touchpoint to engage with consumers while still remaining authentic, as content is shared by a third party rather than a brand’s own channels. With this in mind, retailers should think of Instagram as a tool to extend their reach to international audiences and markets — the golden ticket to building a stronger, global brand community.

Bring brand experiences to life

Nowadays, to capture real, lasting customers — a picture really does tell a thousand words. Merchants using the platform can tell their brand story in a way that doesn’t feel too promotional to consumers. The real opportunity for retailers is that they can bring their brand and products to life and connect to consumers directly, all at the same time. For example, successful Australian fashion retailer, Realisation Par brings brand experiences to life with user-generated content, showcasing followers in different global locations wearing their dress designs. Showcasing products in this way is an authentic way to advertise on Instagram, and has the added benefit of helping develop long-term relationships with customers as they feel part of a valued community.

Instagram has matured as the go-to for discovering new products and brands, especially with the release of features like Shopping on Instagram, which has made the journey from browsing to buying possible for shoppers. It has the potential to open the doors to international markets, encourage greater brand loyalty and help initiate more engaging brand experiences. Aussie merchants should consider Instagram as an extremely effective, affordable and fast-growing platform to grow their ecommerce business.

Jordan Sim, Director of Product Management at BigCommerce