According to the news report by The Verge, Facebook Inc.’s photo sharing app Instagram is developing a new standalone shopping app. The news agency reports that this new app, which may be called IG Shopping, will allow users to browse through collections of products from various merchants they are following and then use the app to directly buy them.
This information was reportedly given to The Verge by two people who are aware of the matter. However, Instagram refused to comment on this story. Details about this new app are still sketchy. There is no clear date as to when this app would be launched. The sources told The Verge that development is still ongoing and the project may even be scrapped before it is even released.
Having cautioned that the project is still in its early stages of development, the sources still stated that Instagram believes that it is well-positioned to enter the e-commerce market – and even make a major expansion in that segment.
So far, Instagram already boasts of more than 25 million businesses having accounts on its platform. Of this number, about 2 million actively advertise on the company’s platform. Added to that, about 4 of 5 users follow at least one of these businesses.
By creating an online standalone app, Instagram would be able to offer a home to these businesses where they can offer products for sale – basically a dedicated online shopping platform. This would also give Instagram the chance to create another revenue stream for the company.
Facebook could, over a period of time, offer more tools to merchants and companies that are using Instagram to build their businesses, thereby directly challenging other e-commerce platforms like Shopify. As it is, most businesses already have an Instagram account, and Instagram (probably rightly) feels that the majority of them would be willing to pay for business tools – if they were available – grow their enterprises.
There are already some companies in the market that are selling such tools to businesses advertising on Instagram. For example, a company called Four Sixty allows businesses to pay for assistance in creating photo galleries that can be used to shop, modernization of content, scheduling of posts, etc. Shopify’s app store also contains numerous plugins that are designed to promote as well as manage Instagram based businesses.
This is not a new idea for Instagram. Facebook had already started testing a shopping feature in November of 2016. Instagram’s official blog announced that it was launching a new way in which shoppers could buy products they wanted on Instagram.
With this new feature, users could compare brands before making a final decision to purchase. About 20 US-based retail brands, including Kate Spade, Warby Parker and JackThreads, would be able to share posts with greater depth.
Each post by these companies would have a tap to view option at the bottom left of the photo. When users clicked this option, up to 5 other products would be showcased, giving shoppers the chance to compare all the products. This feature was then rolled out more broadly to the rest of the Instagram community in March of 2017.
This is not the first standalone app that Instagram has been planning to spin off. Since December of 2017, the company has been testing a new messaging app called Direct. This app is expected to possibly replace the current Instagram inbox.
And then, in June this year, Instagram introduced IGTV, another standalone app that allowed users to upload videos that were as long as one hour. These videos would also be vertical, meaning they would have bigger pictures.