For the last 5 years we have seen Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and Instagram all try to make social commerce work. Instagram is back for their next attempt with the Instagram Checkout Beta. This one is truly different then everything they have done before.

Instagram has a cool new beta called Checkout. To get into this beta you are going to need to work with a platform partner that Instagram has given access to this beta. We have access through Feedonmics, who we use as our shopping feed vendor of choice.

In the past you saw a lot of ad platforms trying to do social commerce with a buy button that you could place anywhere you wanted. That didn’t work well and quickly died off. Some have tried to make social commerce work on and off their ad platform with limited success.

Now Instagram is back on their platform and have included what is normally thought of as a marketplace (think eBay or Amazon). Even Walmart has a marketplace in 2019. Also, this only works on your mobile device. You can’t use Checkout on desktop.

Once you go to a profile like Warby Parker, you’ll see a little basket iconwhich leads to the marketplace for Warby Parker. You’ll find the basket icon for any brand that is in the Checkout beta. 

This min-marketplace will have all the products they have tagged in their posts. Bare in mind, you cannot tag past posts but you can tag all your posts moving forward. Make sure to avoid ONLY doing tag posts though. Try to mix it up and keep your feed fresh. I’m hearing you should do at least 15 tag posts a month to be successful at this.

In the marketing place, you can pick what you want and items eligible for in-app checkout now have a big blue “Checkout on Instagram” button below them. Tap it and you’ll be asked to provide your email address so that the seller can complete your order. From there, you can enter your delivery information and payment method, and after reviewing your details you can place the order.

What makes this different from past efforts is the marketplace and having a smoother experience when you shop from a brand. The big question is how many people are going to shop this way and will they do it often enough that it makes sense.

Future of Social Commerce

I wonder if the next stage is having a central marketplace. A place where we could search across all brands that are involved in Checkout. This would seem like a logical next step, considering Instagram is owned by Facebook and there is the Facebook Marketplace. This way I can add multiple bands to my cart and purchase right away.

The other idea would have Instagram running ads against all the searches people are doing. These could take the form of text ads or even product lists to have your product listings shown about the non-paid for marketplace items. Similar to what you see Kijiji and eBay do for search result pages. 

Shopping ads would be another ad format we could see at the top of a search results page. This would not be hard to pull off since our shopping feed data is already inside the ad platform.

Not sure what the future holds but we are running this Checkout beta with a client for 90 days, and we have large hopes for what comes next.