Instagram introduces the first functional (but clunky) e-commerce option for social media

Facebook,  Twitter and Pinterest might be testing the idea, but Instagram is now the first social media network with a full fledged e-commerce solution.

You can now buy items directly from department stores Target and Nordtrom through their Instagram pages, using Curalate’s Like2Buy tool. Curalate, which helps brands utilize social media images for marketing insights is calling Like2Buy “Instagram’ missing link,” allowing brands to monetize the huge amounts of engagement they’re getting from their Instagram presence.

“Instagram’s high engagement rates make it a powerful platform for branding and commerce,” said Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Curalate in a press release. “With Like2Buy, Curalate is making it easy for Nordstrom to leverage Instagram in a way that provides Nordstrom’s customers even easier access to the products they want,” 

However, the process for buying a product you see isn’t completely streamlined, in fact it sounds downright clunky. Here’s how it works, according to Nordstrom’s press release:

When a customer sees a photo posted on Nordstrom’s Instagram feed that they’re interested in purchasing or learning more about, they simply click on the Nordstrom profile name and then click the link on the Nordstrom profile page. Next, they will see a gallery of all the featured products and can select an item and go directly to to complete their purchase. Customers can also use the “My Likes” function in the gallery to curate items they love for future inspiration or to purchase at another time.

Basically, if you like a brand’s product you click on a link, which shows you all the products that are on sale. Then if you like one of those, you click on its picture, and it takes you to the brand’s website to complete the purchase. Curalate creates the intermediate “Like2Buy” page between the Instagram profile and the brand’s website.

“We connect with more than 500,000 customers on Instagram by posting items we hope they find inspirational, beautiful and fun,” said Nordtrom’s social media director Bryan Galipeau in a release.  “Like2Buy enhances the experience for customers who want to take the next step and learn more about the great fashion we’re featuring, to make a purchase or save items for another time.”

Here’s what Nordtrom’s Like2Buy page looks like:

While this isn’t exactly the single-click, direct sales approach one envisions when thinking about social media e-commerce, it’s a step in the right direction. Platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram present a huge opportunity for brands, especially retailers who can use attractive, high quality images to drive consumer engagement. The transition to e-commerce is a natural one since looking at pictures is the first step in getting convinced to buy what’s in them. 

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