Instagram has become one of the largest, most widely-used social media platforms to date, with 1 billion monthly users. Currently, Instagram users utilize their accounts to post photos and videos of everything from themselves and their friends and families, to their pets, to their last meal or cocktail, to epic landscapes of their recent vacation or adventure. Some use it to follow their friends, their favorite celebrities or athletes, or to keep up-to-date on whatever they’re interested in, whether that be sports, music, art, fashion, inspirational quotes, or funny memes. Some public figures, known as influencers, with thousands (if not millions) of followers, can even make a living through their Instagram accounts with paid sponsorships. It's hard to imagine how Instagram can become even bigger, but now it plans to also give users the opportunity to shop without ever having to leave the app.
This major project of Instagram’s certainly won’t happen overnight, but they have already rolled-out a new feature called Checkout , which started this past March. Nike Inc. is one of the first participating retailers. Here’s how Checkout works: imagine you’re scrolling through your news feed and you see a photo of your favorite celebrity wearing a pair of sunglasses that you like. You use the existing Instagram “tagging" feature that allows you to see exactly what sunglasses those are. Now, instead of having to save the item and search for it online later, or be redirected to the retailer’s website, there is a Checkout option at the bottom that allows you to purchase the sunglasses right there in the Instagram app. You won’t be directed to a new page or app. Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and PayPal are all accepted payment options, and eventually, purchasing will be integrated directly by each business, making it even easier.
As of its launch in March, 55 influencers were able to use the Checkout trial to sell certain brands in their Instagram accounts, including Kylie Jenner and Chiara Ferragni. The initial trial included twenty-six brands, including Burberry, Prada, and Dior. With these big, luxury name brands in the mix, there is potential for some problems to arise, and maybe some opposition from such companies. As we know, many of these large brand names are quite particular when it comes to their marketing and advertising. They have a specific image, and they use that image to sell their products. They enlist A-list celebrities and models to make their products look a certain way. However, with this new Checkout feature in full swing, somewhere down the road, potentially anyone will be able to post a photo and sell whatever it is they are wearing/using. The luxury brands might not be on board for that. There will also be a seller’s fee, though we are currently awaiting more information on the details.
Checkout is projected to bring in 10 billion dollars in revenue in the year 2021. Instagram expects this to be big. As exciting as all of this is, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, has made it very clear that this is a project still in the works and will require significant infrastructure. Instagram has to work with every country’s payment providers, develop buyer-protection features, and figure out inventory management. In his first interview regarding the business side of Instagram, Mosseri said, “It’s a very, very long lead time. This isn’t a one year thing, this is like a five to 10-year project." Thus, while we may not yet be able to fully “window-shop" on Instagram just yet, they are definitely working on making it another go-to platform for our shopping needs. Beware, Amazon. In the years to come, buying Kim Kardashian’s dress or something from Drake’s Adidas collection will be as easy as a click of a Checkout button.