In the first quarter of 2019, Instagram made headlines by announcing the roll out of a native checkout experience for a limited number of U.S. brands, with plans to expand the offering in the months that followed. The new feature allows users to purchase products directly from their feed, finally bridging the gap between exploration and purchase.

In this article we explore what checkout on Instagram means for brands and how it could impact the ecommerce landscape as a whole.

A natural progression

Instagram’s move to bring checkout capabilities to brands is a natural step for a brand discovery and engagement platform. Instagram’s brand discovery utility is well-documented: According to Facebook, 83% of users say Instagram helps them discover new products or services.

Beyond discovery and brand awareness, Instagram boasts high levels of user engagement and influences user behavior beyond the social interaction. Facebook reports that 87% of users take an action after seeing a product on Instagram, including 46% who go on to make a purchase.

What’s clear from this data is that users are not only willing, but eager, to engage with brands on Instagram. They see the platform as a place to discover products, and many of them go on to actually make a purchase after being influenced by a post. The Instagram audience is perfectly primed to benefit from a native checkout option.

There is also an intangible, aspirational quality to the content many users consume on Instagram. The desire to dress like a street fashion influencer, or acquire the newest technology that your friend has adopted, lends itself well to an integrated, in-platform shopping experience.

The future of ecommerce

There’s a lot that the launch of checkout on Instagram can tell us about the direction of ecommerce in the future.

Instant gratification as the new normal

As digital commerce continues to become more sophisticated, the desire for instant gratification will only grow. Brands like Amazon have seen success by striving to deliver as close to instant gratification as possible. Instagram’s checkout feature only further entrenches this standard by closing the gap between an impulse to buy and the purchase itself.

Frictionless experiences are more important than ever

Reducing time to purchase is huge, but reducing the friction involved in making that purchase is equally important.

Instagram checkout will save users’ information following their first purchase on the platform. This means that for every purchase that follows, the absolute minimum amount of effort will be involved in completing the transaction. Instagram checkout even further reduces friction because the entire process, from discovery to delivery, is contained within a single environment. No need for searching or device-switching. Expect an emphasis on frictionless shopping to continue to grow as users become accustomed to this kind of experience.

Better attribution

Instagram checkout should go a long way to convincing internal brand stakeholders that investment in the platform is worthwhile given that attribution will be far more straightforward when purchases are made within the app.

Attribution challenges have long plagued marketers when it comes to measuring the ROI of social campaigns. Tracking the user journey across platforms and devices is challenging if not downright impossible in certain circumstances. For brands participating in Instagram checkout, a major part of the attribution gap will finally be bridged.

In Closing

The rollout of checkout on Instagram is a long-awaited feature on the wish lists of many digital marketers. It marks a natural progression for a platform that over the past few years has become one of the most powerful brand discovery engines.

Instagram checkout both reflects and presages trends in ecommerce. The feature provides an effectively seamless end-to-end shopping experience for users, which will further increase demand for frictionless commerce and instant gratification of consumer desires.