Instagram announced today that independent creators will be able to start selling their wares through the app beginning July 9. Previously, only a limited number of "select" brands and celebrities were able to sell on Instagram. Shopping on Instagram could help creators get their products in front of more eyeballs and make a living during the pandemic.
Under the program, creators will be able to place shopping tags on items that appear in their feed or Story posts, and those tags will link out to a product page on their own website where customers can complete the purchase. To be eligible, creators need to have their own website and at least one product for sale.
Slowly adding shopping — Instagram has been moving slowly into shopping since it first introduced shopping tags in 2016. The company doesn't make money off shopping tags specifically, but it is also testing the ability to complete purchases directly on Instagram with a checkout page where it does take a cut of sales. For now, creators will just be able to link out to their own websites where customers can buy products.
Last month, Instagram parent Facebook announced it was partnering with Shopify to make it easier for Facebook Page owners to sell things. It was only a matter of time before these features came to Instagram, especially considering how well-suited the image-focused platform is for showcasing products, and its ability to generally escape the ill-will Facebook continues to generate.
Instagram is Facebook's new cash machine — Shopping could someday become a major revenue stream for Instagram, which has more than 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook doesn't break out exactly how much money Instagram makes, but estimates suggest it brought in about $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019. Ad sales have slowed on Facebook proper, and Instagram now accounts for about a quarter of the company's overall revenue as it shoves more sponsored posts into user's feeds from new brands like Allbirds and Harry's.
Shopping on Instagram could also prove fatal for online marketplace Etsy, which is tailormade for individual artists and creators to sell their goods, and includes everything from plants to facemasks. Etsy is much smaller, with about 45 million active buyers. With all the eyeballs on Instagram, creators may dedicate more of their time to promoting and selling goods there no matter how long they've been on Etsy, especially if it proves an effective means of moving products.