Social media giant Instagram has launched a new shopping tab while sources say the giant is set to build on its existing e-commerce features with a standalone shopping app.

Instagram is reportedly working on a standalone application based around shopping that would allow people to buy products direct from retailers they follow, the Verge has reported.

The release date of the app is not known, according to the Verge, and the feature could be cancelled before release. But the social media giant also announced on Monday that it will be adding a shopping tab to the Explore page.

The launch will also include a feature allowing sellers to put stickers on stories to let buyers maker purchased from the stories feed by tapping on products.

Instagram’s swipe-up feature has already been a huge success for retailers, with many swearing by the feature to boost e-commerce traffic.

Such a feature would build on the existing e-commerce capabilities across social media – features which are a critical touchpoint for retailers, Jordan Sim, group product manager at BigCommerce says.

“It’s transformed the industry dramatically. If we even just start by looking at the statistics, according to BI Intelligence, the top 5 retailers had an estimated 6.5 billion just from social selling, up 24 per cent from 2016.”

Increasingly, embracing these social platforms is a necessity for retailers, Mr Sim says, particularly given people are spending at least 1 hour per day on some social media channels, Mr Sim says.

“The social component has already transformed the way that commerce is being consumed by a lot of customers. It’s beyond the brick and mortar, it’s beyond the store front and it’s very much along social channels,” he said.

“If we look at the growth of social media over the past decade, customers and individuals gravitate to these mediums. When we think about the world we live in today to grab customers’ attention, we first and foremost need to be positioned where they are.”

It’s all about operating within various behavioural patterns and social constructs – with social media a key way to tap into this, he says.

As the number of channels for retailers increases, retailers must look to engaging customers with touch points, such as social media, that will maximise customer engagement.

“Retailers need to be aware of existing channels but now also need to play where customers are playing – whether it’s Instagram or Pinterest. There’s a heightened awareness of new channels and increasing demand for retailers to be present on those channels,” Mr Sim said.