In a bid to compete with online shopping services such as Amazon, the social media site Instagram is currently developing a shopping app of its own. The Verge has reported that people with knowledge of the development have told them that the “IG Shopping” app will allow users to directly purchase goods from merchants on the site and further push Instagram into the e-commerece market.. The new app will serve as competition to companies such as FourSxty and Shopify which currently promote plug-ins for Instagram business accounts to facilitate marketplace transactions.
The IG Shopping app will serve as yet another evolution for the image-focused social media site as it continues to expand into a multifaceted social media experience designed to turn profits. The e-commerce market typified by Amazon and Shopify have managed to grow at an exponential rate, projected to have a market value worth $4.5 trillion globally by 2021. The booming market has made Amazon a powerhouse corporation and its CEO Jeff Bezos the wealthiest man in the world officially.
There is currently no timeline for the app’s release date but the sources told The Verve that the company hopes that the new app will help Instagram expand into the e-commerce market currently dominated by Amazon. The app’s development might even be terminated before it even goes public. However, the Verve’s sources– whom claim to be well aware of the inner workings of the current Instagram business plan– have stated that the app will more than likely be released when finished. As of right now, Instagram has not officially made any public statements in regards to the app. However, the company has recently posted an open job listing for a Product Marketing Manager for Shopping which seems to confirm the company’s move into e-commerce.
Instagram is currently home to 25 million businesses that use the website as a promotion tool for their wares and services. Of those businesses, only half currently use their own standalone website, relying on social media sites as the primary thrust of their online marketing presence. Those businesses currently share Instagram with a market base of nearly 800 million users. Currently, roughly 80% of these Instagram users follow at least one business on the social media site. According to The Verve, Instagram’s concept is that so many businesses already use the site for promotional purposes that these businesses would have little issue utilizing paid business features to sell products directly to Instagram users.
This would not be the first step for Instagram into shopping transactions between vendors and users on the site. From the early stages of Instagram, business transactions had been common but relegated to the crude manner of direct messaging. In late 2016, the site had begun testing the waters with a shopping feature designed to allow products to be tagged into posts that could enable users to buy them. The feature gave vendors the ability to post prices and links on products promoted through the site. The feature went fully online in March and has shown to be quite profitable for the website. The site also currently allows users to shop directly from Instagram stories of which the IG Shopping app would serve as a compliment towards.
Instagram started out in 2010 as a simple social media site that allowed users to post images with descriptions. Since being acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, the site has expanded its services to better utilize its profitability. Features such as a direct messaging service similar to Facebook Messenger called Direct has allowed for greater use of one-on-one conversations. Instagram Stories have given users the option to add effects and layers to photos that expire in 24 hours in a fashion similar to Snapchat. Recently, IGTV launched as Instagram’s own video streaming service as a way to compete with YouTube’s market share of online videos, designed with a vertical video ratio to accommodate its use on smartphones. Since its acquisition by Facebook, Instagram’s market value has ballooned to over $100 billion. With IG Shopping, Instagram and its superiors in the Facebook offices hope to use the rising e-commerce market to expand their value even further. It remains to be seen whether this particular venture will bear that fruit.