Instagram is going above and beyond to keep users within the walls of its feeds and stories. Last year, we were discussing just how much effort the platform is putting into generating new features that can satisfy both brands and individual users. Caught between marketing and laid-back scrolling, Instagram continues to push shopping tools as a way to make this happen…and gain more revenue. First, there were the shopping stickers, now we’re talking about actual checkout.

(Video Credits: Instagram)

But, before you get too excited about the checkout feature, you need to know that Instagram checkout is only available, for now, in the beta version and only to a handful of US brands. So, while the prospect of users shopping and checking out directly through Instagram can be exciting (or daunting for some), we’ll have to hold our horses just a while longer.

In the meantime, of course, we can dig into all aspects of the new checkout feature, good and bad, and plan ahead for when we’ll get our hands on it. So, marketers, social media managers and users, unite for a quick look at the new checkout feature: the good, the bad and the ugly.

How does the Instagram checkout feature work?

Things are rather straightforward with Instagram checkout for both users and brands.

Instagram Shopping Checkout Feature
Instagram Shopping Checkout Feature (Image Credits: TechCrunch)

From a user’s perspective, it all starts with the moment they see a shopping post with a Checkout tag, available in the feed, Stories and the Explore content tab. If the shopping post has an item they simply must have in their wardrobe, all users have to do is follow the product page and hit the ‘Checkout on Instagram’ button. Of course, users will be able to select the size, color or any other specifications available for each product.

Instagram Checkout
Instagram Checkout (Image Credits: Instagram)

Next, users are prompted for their personal details and the delivery address they want the items shipped to. Users can pay by debit, credit or PayPal. What’s more, purchasing something through Instagram Checkout is completely private and nothing gets posted on their feed (unless they choose to post themselves). What’s cool about Instagram checkout is that it also enables users to track their order at all times in the “Orders” section of their profiles. And, if everything is unclear, Instagram has prepared a complete list with details and information about the new Checkout feature.

Oh, here are the retailers that are currently taking advantage of the Checkout feature:

  • Adidas (@adidaswomen)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills (@anastasiabeverlyhills)
  • Balmain (@balmain)
  • Burberry (@burberry)
  • ColourPop (@colourpopcosmetics)
  • Dior (@dior)
  • H&M (@hm)
  • Kuda Beauty (@hudabeautyshop)
  • KKW (@kkwbeauty)
  • Kylie Costmetics (@kyliecostmetics)
  • MAC Cosmetics (@maccosmetics)
  • Michael Kors (@michaelkors)
  • NARS (@narsissist)
  • Nike (@niketraining and @nikewomen)
  • NYX Costmetics (@nyxcosmetics)
  • Oscar dela Renta (@oscardelarenta)
  • Ouai Hair (@theouai)
  • Outdoor Voices (@outdoorvoices)
  • Prada (@prada)
  • Revolve (@revolve)
  • Uniqlo (@uniqlo)
  • Warby Parker (@warbyparker)
  • Zara (@Zara)

Benefits and downsides of Instagram Checkout for brands

If you’re a retailer who’s trying to drive in sales through Instagram, it’s more than obvious how the new Checkout feature can help. Practically, Instagram Checkout eliminates all other intermediary steps and aids brands to close up a sale right then, right there. Right now, most brands promote their top products on Instagram with the objective of attracting people into their online store where they have a larger portion of their inventory. With the new Instagram Checkout feature, brands will be able to take users to the digital countertop without having them go through another step. So, this means a faster sale.

The downside to this wonderful fairytale? Having customers buy directly through Instagram means brands will lose the opportunity to interact directly with clients. Thus, brands will now lose a big portion of the data they could gather through more direct interactions. That means they’ll have fewer chances to get clients to return. We say fewer, because businesses will still be able to attract clients through…yeap, Instagram again.

Another possible downside is the fee Instagram will implement for each purchase made through the platform. So, in addition to paying for marketing, brands will also have to save some money for actual purchases. With the margins drawing in so close, it might become harder and harder for brands to keep up with the financial demands.

Will Instagram checkout be a total success or a major failure?

Like all new features, Instagram Checkout’s feasibility and success is still a subject of debate…and testing. At the moment of the beta launch, 20 brands, including H&M and Adidas, wanted to be part of the initial wave of businesses to take advantage of the feature. The buzz about Instagram Checkout is big indeed and everybody expects it to forever change the face of online shopping and of social media platforms. But is the hype real or is it just the result of a very successful PR campaign?

Instagram PR campaign
Instagram PR campaign

The way we see it, Instagram Checkout has the potential to become e a great tool for businesses and a nice feature for users, as long as it doesn’t smother the feeds. The risk of the newly-introduced feature to become too aggressive is real. One only has to look at the challenges Facebook is going through due to some of its ‘in-your’face’ advertising pushes to understand why.

The commercialization of Instagram is not yet a bump in the road for users and actually help improve the content quality. However, the line is thin and Instagram has to make sure it doesn’t cross it. You, as a brand manager or social media expert, know very well that artificial content, created solely for marketing purposes, doesn’t work. In fact, it’s extremely important to mention that the Instagram Checkout feature is only available for organic posts and ads aren’t eligible to be combined with the feature. At least for now.

So, should you be excited?

Yes. Short and simple. Even if there are a few words of caution that you should definitely consider as a business owner or social media manager, as long as you create a solid marketing strategy across all channels, the Instagram Checkout feature can be gold. So, research until it gets to your door as well. Then, at least test it and see how it goes. You know what we say, try everything at least once. Talking about trying, have you tried Preppr? First 10 days are free.



Ilona Iftode is a copywriter with a taste for adventure. She lives to write, travel and explore new concepts in the realms of advertising, marketing, SEO and beyond.

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