With more than 200 million active users and 60 million photos shared per day, Instagram is a top social network for consumers to share images and connect with their favorite brands and retailers.
Although the photo-sharing network recently unveiled an advertising model that included sponsored photos and videos, one thing was missing: A clear, seamless connection to the e-Commerce site. That is, until now.
Visual analytics and marketing company Curalate has unveiled Like2Buy, a new solution that makes a brand or retailer’s Instagram feed shoppable. Charlotte Russe and Nordstrom are among the early adopters, and executives already are expressing enthusiasm for the results they’re seeing thus far.
Like2Buy was designed to help turn Instagram engagement, such as likes or comments, into revenue for online retailers. Rather than making customers jump between channels to access product information, Like2Buy allows social teams to link photos from an Instagram account to products available on an e-Commerce site.
Using a profile link on a brand or retailer’s Instagram account, users can access a gallery of shoppable photos and click through to the products. Consumers also have access to a personalized feed of products based on images they’ve liked in the past.
“Instagram is a great way for us to share products and inspire our customers with images that we hope they’ll like,” said Bryan Galipeau, Social Media Director at Nordstrom. “Like2Buy allows us to take things a step further by connecting customers more quickly and easily with items we’ve featured on our Instagram page. We hope to create a seamless shopping experience and teaming with Curalate as their launch partner with Like2Buy helps us do just that.”
Charlotte Russe’s Social Media and PR Manager, Kristen Strickler, also noted that she was “very excited” with Like2Buy because “so many of our customers use Instagram to inform themselves before making a buying decision. Some even use it while they’re shopping online or in a store.”
Despite the growing role of Instagram throughout the browsing and buying journey, “the limitation of the network hasn’t offered a way for consumers to actually use Instagram to make purchases,” said Strickler in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “And the reality is, you only have their attention for a short amount of time.”
An early adopter of different social commerce tactics such as social login, Charlotte Russe has started educating the consumer on the benefits of Like2Buy and the role it can play in the social shopping experience.
“We’re speaking to [Like2Buy] in the majority of our posts now,” Strickler said. “We’re educating the customer to go to that link in our profile and see the items featured in those Instagram images.”
Bridging The Commerce Gap
Overall engagement rates on Instagram typically are 58-fold higher than Facebook and 128-fold higher than Twitter, according to Apu Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder of Curalate. “When we work with our brands, we see similar results anecdotally.”
Although consumers are highly engaged with brand content on Instagram, they used to have to work to find out how to find the products featured in posts.
“They would say ‘hey, how do we get these products?’” Gupta explained. “The ways they’d have to interact was really frustrating — it would be difficult to go from Instagram to check out.”
Retailers also struggled to connect the dots between their Instagram feeds and product pages.
“Brands had to manually enter product numbers in the caption and then the consumer had to memorize it and type it in,” Gupta noted. “But that brings another key issue to light: Even if a consumer purchased a product because of Instagram, the retailer or brand didn’t have the ability to attribute that sale back to Instagram.”
Charlotte Russe took this approach to promoting products on the social network. “We’ve tried location tagging with product codes, which is sometimes difficult to copy and paste quickly,” Strickler explained. “Like2Buy is a great next step and will be much more efficient for us and a lot easier for our customers. Now, they don’t have to write down a product code before entering a store or type it up before visiting our e-Commerce site.”
More than 450 brands using Curalate solutions will roll out Like2Buy over the coming weeks. Non-clients can pre-register for the solution.