Instagram announced last year that it was to roll out a commerce feature for a select 20 brands to begin the task of selling to a daily active user base of close to 400M - They acknowledged that brands were readily prepared to commit to a more seductive, social element of selling.
Online darling, Warby Parker were fast to chime in, citing...
“Instagram and Warby Parker share a similar appreciation for beautiful design and seamless experiences. But right now, there isn’t a simple, clean way for us to share details about the products featured within our posts. Customers often have to ask us, which creates a bulky experience on both sides. We love how seamlessly integrated and consumer-centric this new experience is,” said Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO.
Instagram have since rolled out the feature and have forged ahead with notable shopify integrations, including some basic business analytics to assess what products are impacting followers with a bunch of filters and metrics to run comparative breakdowns. All neat the tidy, on top of that Instagram has the success of 'stories' (essentially cloned from Snapchat) to build upon and repurpose as a formidable commerce tool once inevitably commercialised.
One distinct ace Instagram holds over competitors is its 'influencer network', and multiple 3rd party integrations, allowing brands to tap into and leverage the followings of top Instagramers to secretly promote products (something that hits a grey area in publicised advertising at present) to their base and no doubt eventually lead to affiliate sales. Pushing direct sales on Instagram is nothing new, most savy retailers routinely shared product identifier codes for followers to screenshot, copy & paste into the site search bar and was easily analysed by the retailers marketing teams - However the ability to directly purchase via a similar one-click Amazon/PayPal route will be intriguing to watch. This is partially where Twitter failed full stop to find success with 'buy now' buttons, too much friction and the customer will walk (or swipe) elsewhere.
Buying directly is old news to Pinterest, they released their 'buy now' feature at the tail end of 2015 and have since seen seamless integrations with platforms such as the Commerce Cloud (Salesforce owned having acquired DemandWare). Pinterest announced in February they'd nailed 'visual search' - a topic we've covered in a little more detail here - and this is no doubt the most impressive visual AI we've seen deployed to date. Built in-house by the Pinterest engineering team, they've gone all-in on what is obviously going to become an enormously lucrative field to monetise and given Pinterest is an aspirational platform (akin to Instagram) this is a big win in the social commerce battle.
The defining question is scale and social inclusiveness - Pinterest has not really experienced the same kind of accelerated growth and usage that of Snapchat or Instagram, there is no celebrity anywhere telling his or her fans to follow their Pinterest page for updates. This could become a wall that even Pinterest's engineering team cannot scale over, while it's an impressive feat and one that works very well as a discovery tool, I don't feel compelled to dust down my Pinterest's and start pinning again and that's a very big problem where commerce is concerned.
Facebook is also doubling down on commerce this spring, announcing last week the launch of shoppable 'collections' inside Ads, displaying products in a landing page fashion to entice followers or prospective customers to visualise how the look may wear on them. Given Facebook's very public acquisition of virtual reality headset maker Oculus Rift 3 years back, this kind of content will become king for discerning shoppers wanting to try out edited picks.
Can CloudCascade™ help?
With our newly launched CloudCascade™ for technology plan - retailers can gain discounts to multiple industry leading platforms in all domains via our accredited partnerships and we include top to bottom team hiring and training for this field on-site following a full brief with your buying, marketing and strategy personnel.
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