For its next trick, Instagram may be preparing to launch a standalone app individually for shopping. The Verge reported that “IG Shopping” (which people will have to download separately from the Instagram app) will let people browse things from merchants and businesses they follow and purchase them directly from the app. Instagram refused to comment.
Instagram’s movement into social commerce—a place that involves directly purchasing things on social networks—is mostly unsurprising.
According to Facebook’s last earnings report, Instagram’s existing merchant community is strong, with over 25 million brands already on the platform, and 80% of Instagrammers already following at least one business account.
Instagram users have also noticed that Instagram has been testing an in-app shopping feature since November 2016, which enables merchants to tag their products so people can buy directly from a picture. It’s also checking the option to buy things directly from Instagram Stories.
Facebook has tried a lot to nurture a social shopping presence with its struggling Marketplace, the Craigslist-like part of its main app. But with its active community of indie and designer brands, it seems like Instagram has a better potential for building a competitive social commerce community. And it’s a profitable trend to get in front.
Shopping wouldn’t be the first Instagram feature to be turned out into a standalone app. It has been testing “Direct,” a new messaging app, since last December. Last year it introduced IGTV, a YouTube competitor that places vertical videos into their own app.