Instagram boss lays out plan for in-app shopping bags, checkout

If there was any lingering doubt about Instagram’s desire to play a bigger role in consumers’ online shopping behaviour, it has been put permanently to rest.

In an interview published in the Financial Times on Tuesday, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said he was aiming to “connect the dots thoughtfully” between shoppers, sellers and influencers on the app.

By introducing shopping cart and checkout functions in the app, he said the platform could “unlock a lot of value from everyone involved”.

Instagram has long been a place for brands and influencers share product and lifestyle photos, but the platform, which first launched in 2010, has only recently started making it easier for consumers to shop in the app.

The past few years have seen the introduction of product tags and links in various ad formats and new features for business profiles. And in March, the social media platform started trialling ‘Checkout on Instagram’, a feature that enables users to buy products without leaving the app.

More than 20 retailers, including Adidas, Burberry, Dior, H&M, Michael Kors, Nike, Outdoor Voices, Uniqlo and Zara, are involved in the US-based trial, which now seems certain to roll out more widely.

Mosseri noted, however, that shopping is a long-term plan for Instagram, and that it will require significant infrastructure, including integration with inventory systems and payment providers in different countries.

“This isn’t a one year thing, this is like a five to 10-year project.”

Mosseri also flagged the possibility of Instagram taking “reasonable” commissions on transactions that occur on the platform, putting it in the company of online marketplace giants like Amazon and Alibaba.

According to analysts at Deutsche Bank, Instagram could make US$10 billion shopping revenues as early as 2021, the Financial Times reported.

Analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey estimate the company will generate US$15.8 billion in advertising revenues this year, which is nearly a quarter of Facebook’s group total.

Mosseri added that Instagram is focused on the safety and well-being of its users. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference earlier this year, he floated the idea of “private like counts”, which the platform has been testing in Canada.

Mosseri told the Financial Timeshe is “personally bullish” on the idea of rolling it out further.

“I hope we can make it work,” he said.

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