In the past few years, we’ve seen a growing number of ‘Shop Now!’ buttons popping up all over our social media newsfeeds – be that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & so on. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not; sometimes it’s in one format, sometimes it’s in another; with no social media platform striking the exact right balance of usability without intruding on the overall user experience. Instagram, it would appear, is there or thereabouts – and we love it.

Designed to help us make impulse purchasing decisions via the medium of social media, that little ‘Buy Now!’ button hasn’t exactly been the best friend of any of our bank accounts – which shows that it works!

Instagram, the social media channel centred around the sharing of photos & short video clips, is dipping its digital digit in the water in testing this out on the app. The announcement came in the form of an official blog post, in which it declared that it was testing a variety of methods through which they could make their in-app shopping experience more seamless and easy for users. Instagram went on to detail that they are working with 20 retail business partners in order to help amend tags to products featured in posts when a user taps a ‘Tap to View’ icon on the bottom left of the post. When a specific tag is tapped, the user can view more information on their chosen product selection, transporting users to the retailer site to allow them to make a purchase.

It makes some real sense, with reports highlighting that 84% of smartphone users are now using their devices to find more information on products and services offered by companies.

Various white iPhones featuring the new Instagram 'Shop Now' feature

Not a great deal has been revealed regarding the specifics of global roll-out & geographic availability for Instagram users, however, it has been announced that the initial release will be to a select group of users on iOS devices within the United States. Many of the early shop tags are from brands like Kate Spade, Macy’s & Target. Instagram has announced that the feature will eventually expand to Android devices, video ads and countries outwith the US as it develops a concrete and watertight strategy as to how to best showcase and recommend products to mobile users.

The blog wrote: “As we roll out further, we’ll explore product recommendations, ways products are showcased to shoppers, global expansion and the ability to save content so Instagrammers can take an action later. We want to understand how to deliver the most seamless shopping experience for consumers and businesses on Instagram, and ultimately mobile.”

Taking a step back, Instagram’s foray into e-commerce isn’t exactly sending shockwaves through the commercial landscape. ‘Buy’ buttons and ‘contextual commerce’ (we don’t entirely understand what that means, either) have been narrowing the space between e-commerce and social media; which has led to retailers, tech providers and social media platforms to experiment with ways to simultaneously boost both product sales and online traffic for each party respectively.