Instagram first launched the platform, in conjunction with BigCommerce, in the US in October. Since that time, it said US merchants had enjoyed a 50 per cent increase in Instagram referral traffic, with a similar boost anticipated for Australian firms.
Australia is just one of the countries the service has been expanded into, with the simultaneous launch into France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK as well as Brazil and Canada.
The social network claims to have more than half a billion active users globally on any given day, and said that 60 per cent of its users admit to discovering new products on Instagram.
“Up to this point, social media platforms have predominantly been used by brands to generate awareness with current and prospective customers. Though many platforms have tried to deliver additional value by adding shopping features, most social commerce initiatives have been lacking,” said Jordan Sim, group product manager at BigCommerce.
“With the arrival of shopping on Instagram, brands now have a powerful feature to bring product discovery and sales conversion even closer together. And with Instagram being one of the world’s fastest-growing and dominant social platforms today, retailers will not want to miss out on this growth opportunity.”
Mr Sim added: “More than 500 million people use Instagram daily, and many are already actively engaging with the brands they love on the platform. Yet, to date Instagram has lacked the ability to engage shoppers more deeply, beyond a ‘like’ or passive interaction.”
Despite this, Australian SMEs have already been raking in new customers through Instagram accounts.
Lucy Given of Tasmanian retailer LUC Designs even went so far as to say that, for her business, it has proven to be a much more effective engagement tool than Facebook.
“Instagram is a global thing more than Facebook is really – because Facebook for me is a platform that just does my local customers,” she previously told My Business.
“But on Instagram I’ve got a really big following, and that has led to people approaching me from all around the world to be stocked in my store, which is really nice!”