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Instagram wants to be the shop window of the internet and it’s already on its way

Instagram is betting big on shopping for its future 

When Instagram launched nearly nine years ago, the social network was all about photo sharing. Now, it’s so much more than that.

Whether it’s video through IGTV and Instagram Stories, or people using it to interact with their friends through Direct, Instagram is becoming your one-stop shop for all things online.

In the past year, there’s been a really big push for Shopping on Instagram. In March, the company allowed brands to add product tags in posts on the feed, then it was the click-to-shop functionality in Stories, and in November, the company added shopping in video.

“Instagram was organically this place for serendipitous shopping. The moment of discovery is such a magical moment – I follow a lot of fashion bloggers and for me that’s one of the best things I can get from Instagram,” Ashley Yuki, Instagram’s product lead for Explore, IGTV and Shopping, told the Standard at the recent VidCon London event.

“But we also have an opportunity to make it about window shopping.”

What does window shopping mean for Instagram? As Yuki explained, the internet is a great place for when you’re setting out to buy a particular product. You know the cult product you want from Zara, so you find it on the website, and you’re done. 

But there’s that enjoyable space before making a purchase of simply browsing, which isn’t always great online.

“There’s that moment in between, where you want to go out and actively browse your mall or Soho in New York or London. We want to be able to bring that to Instagram too,” said Yuki. 

The Explore tab, one of the other products Yuki leads, is going to be key to Instagram’s window shopping features. 

“We say the main feed is home and Explore is like stepping out of your home. Discover is when you’re ready to step out of the front door, see the world and what it has to offer you, and that you might not have known about,” explained Yuki.

The company has been experimenting with a dedicated shopping channel in Explore and this, they hope, will lead to more shopping on the platform.

“We’re starting to do tests with a tab for Shopping and that’s a shopping browsing experience,” she said.

“So that’s where we’re headed. We want to make the serendipitous shopping better and we have an opportunity to [facilitate] window shopping.”

Whilst we don’t know if Instagram will ever create a stand-alone shopping app, it’s clear that you’re going to be spending a lot more time shopping on the ‘gram.

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