Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing service Instagram is reportedly developing a standalone app designed specifically for shopping. The app, possibly to be named IG Shopping, is expected to help users browse products from merchants and businesses and then make purchases directly within the app. The Verge initially broke the news based on information from sources familiar with the matter, but Instagram has yet to confirm the app or a potential launch date. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, over 25 million businesses presently have Instagram accounts, 2 million of which are advertisers.

“Four in five Instagram users follow at least one business,” reports The Verge. “Creating a standalone app would allow the company to provide a dedicated home for an increasingly popular activity on Instagram while also expanding opportunities for revenue.”

“Facebook has tried in vain to foster a social shopping presence with its struggling Marketplace, the Craigslist-like section of its main app,” explains Quartz. “But with its robust community of indie and designer brands — and the influencers that wear them — it appears that Instagram may be better poised to build a competitive social commerce community.”

If successful, Facebook could roll out additional tools for merchants that could help Instagram compete with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify.

“Some companies already sell such tools to Instagram advertisers,” The Verge points out. For example, Foursixty “lets businesses pay for help creating shoppable photo galleries, content moderation, post scheduling, and other services. Shopify’s app store contains dozens of plugins related to promoting and managing Instagram-based businesses.”

Instagram has also been testing a feature that enables users to shop from Instagram Stories, in addition to a new messaging app called Direct, and it recently introduced its IGTV standalone vertical video app (a potential YouTube competitor created primarily for smartphones).