Home / Companies / News /  Instagram’s new shopping feature coming to India in 2019

Bengaluru: Instagram users in India could shop for products within the app itself from next year, beginning with an affiliate model, four people aware of the matter said. Initially, tapping the “buy" button next to an image will take the user to the merchant’s web page to complete the purchase. Later, users will be able to make the purchase within Instagram itself.

“By the mid of next year, the platform will have a ‘buy’ button, which will redirect users to the product page based on a cost per sale model," said one of the four persons cited above, requesting anonymity. “Once payments and other aspects are figured out, Instagram will start selling directly."

Instagram’s entry into shopping comes at a time when its parent, Facebook, and search giant Google are turning to e-commerce.

Experts tracking e-commerce believe that initially, shopping on Instagram will boost sales for brands and e-commerce platforms, but it could become a threat to online retailers, especially fashion platforms, in the future. Currently, 80% of India’s online fashion market, which is estimated at more than $4 billion, is controlled by Flipkart-Myntra and Amazon India, according to analysts.

“Instagram Shopping in its initial form may boost sales for brands and smaller fashion portals by redirecting customers to the merchant websites," said Arpan Sheth, a partner at consulting firm Bain and Co. “That said, Instagram would have to figure out other aspects of customer experience, such as logistics, payments and returns, for them to be able to take users away from fashion e-commerce platforms in the long run."

Instagram already has a feature to shop through the platform via Instagram Stories, where a user with a considerable following or a verified page can use the swipe-up feature to direct the consumer to the brand’s website.

Globally, Instagram allows users to shop through a shopping channel as well.

Instagram did not respond to queries sent by Mint as of publishing this story.

“Shopping is a natural extension for Instagram because a large number of fashion discoveries take place on the platform," said an e-commerce entrepreneur, requesting anonymity. “Once shopping is available through Instagram, users can directly figure out product availability rather than searching elsewhere."

According to industry estimates, India has the second-largest Instagram user base outside the US. Though revenues from India remain trivial for most tech firms, the market has become one of the biggest contributors to growth in the numbers of users for companies such as Facebook and Google.

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