Instagram is building a shopping mobile app

Instagram may be building a shopping mobile app according to a report in The Verge. This comes after their move to add clickable shopping bag icons to Instagram Stories earlier this year.

Don’t get too excited however, there are no known release dates or even a certainty that an Instagram shopping mobile app will be released. Shopping is definitely of interest and Instagram have been trialling shopping solutions since 2016.

“The app — which may be called IG Shopping — will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app, according to two people familiar with the matter.”
– The Verge

If Instagram becomes a shopping venue then they’ll be a giant compared to traditional marketplaces in the West. eBay claim around 175 million active users with Amazon on 310 million active. Instagram however have some 800 million users, 500 million of whom are daily active users, so if a relatively small percentage of these became active shoppers they could quickly catch up.

As an interesting aside, in addition to 800 million users, there are already 25 million businesses with Instagram accounts and of these 2 million already buy advertising on Instagram.

Making a shopping mobile app isn’t going to be an instant success however. Retailers who already use Instagram would doubtless be keen to transform their investment in social media and Instagram following into an ecommerce opportunity, but to do this at scale requires investment in tools and services to manage selling activities. Currently there are no multichannel management tools to integrate with an Instagram shopping mobile app and payments as well would need integrating.

Instagram’s parent, Facebook, already has a marketplace but even here it’s not a robust ecommerce solution. Facebook marketplace is largely limited to a consumer to consumer selling proposition and even Facebook themselves don’t know how successful their own marketplace is as transactions are completed off of Facebook. For an Instagram shopping mobile app to be successful it needs to be a robust transactional platform and integrations to retailers, brands and merchants back end systems to be made available.

Instagram certainly have the scale and finances to build an ecommerce enabled app, the real question is will they settle for a psuedo marketplace like Facebook or will they build a shopping mobile app to rival eBay and Amazon?