The idea of the photo platform, owned by Facebook and which has about 1,000 million users, takes advantage of its eminently visual nature to become, in addition to a place to show images to other Internet users, in a sales portal. Among other measures, it entails the introduction in Instagram of e-commerce functions such as the “shopping cart” and the “native checkout”, which allow users to store products before buying them and pay directly in the application, without having to go to third parties.
Although proportionally still represents a small portion of global transactions, e-commerce grows year after year and in 2018 already reached a value of 2.86 trillion dollars worldwide, after having experienced a rise of 18% over the previous year, according to data from Digital Commerce 360. The sector is still dominated by a few big players, mainly the Chinese Alibaba and JD.com and the Americans Amazon, eBay and Walmart.
A hypothetical eruption with Instagram’s strength in this field would have little effect on Alibaba and JD.com, as Instagram, like Facebook, are banned in the Asian country, but Amazon, with overwhelming dominance in the rest of the world, could suffer the consequences.
The company run by Jeff Bezos has been, so far in 2019, the portal on which almost half of all online transactions in the United States (47%, according to eMarketer) have taken place, a juicy portion of the cake that Instagram could threaten. In fact, the application of photographs already began a pilot program of direct sale in March, although limited to just over twenty brands (including Zara, Burberry, Michael Kors, Nike, Adidas, Prada, Uniqlo, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and H&M) and in which payment is processed with PayPal technology.
It will still take several years to turn Instagram into a sales platform, as the necessary infrastructure must be built, such as partnering with payment service providers in each country in which they want to operate. The Facebook subsidiary follows in the footsteps of another Internet giant, Google, which last May announced a redesign of its shopping portal “Shopping” which, as the main novelty, allows Internet users to purchase products directly without having to access the seller’s website. Until then, the section of Google dedicated to commercial transactions (a tab that appears next to “images”, “maps” and “videos”) showed the user photographs and information on different brands that market the product sought, but to buy it had to access the seller’s website.