In March 2019, Instagram changed the world of e-commerce by introducing their ‘Checkout with Instagram’ feature. This means that users can now purchase items without ever leaving the Instagram app. You may have already seen this while browsing Instagram, but here’s how it works. Brands can now post specific ‘shopping’ posts, which include an image of the product they want to sell. Once a user engages with that post, a small overlay appears on the image displaying the product’s name alongside a price. If you tap the overlay, you’re taken to another screen that allows you to pick any customisation options – such as colour and size – and then you’re taken to the checkout page. After you’ve completed your first order using the platform, your details (such as payment details and address) are saved so that your next checkout is even quicker.
The feature has not been rolled out widely yet – and is restricted to a small number of major fashion brands such as H&M, Adidas and Burberry. However, there’s no reason to think that this feature won’t be rolled out more widely, and if you sell products online you should start thinking about how you’re going to use Checkout with Instagram right away.
Here’s why I think this feature is going to change the world of e-commerce massively in 2019.
Instagram has 1bn active users

One billion, yes – one billion – people use Instagram every month. Of those, around half use the platform every single day. Simply put, the user base of Instagram is not only mind-bogglingly huge, they’re massively engaged with the platform too. On top of this, 71% of its users are under 35 years old. Instagram has a young, highly engaged audience. If this is the kind of consumer you’re looking to market to, Checkout with Instagram should be a big focus for you in 2019. Even if that demographic only makes up a small part of your customer base, you need to be using this new feature. It is going to be huge. Why do I say that, you may be asking? Because it’s frictionless, and frictionless tech is king.
Frictionless services are king

What do Uber, Spotify and Deliveroo have in common? Apart from being installed on almost every smartphone across London, the offer consumers a frictionless experience.
Think back to getting a cab 10 years ago. You’d have to head to the cashpoint, pull out a tenner, find a cab rank or – failing that – call a cab company. Tell the driver where you’d like to go, pay him on arrival, and end up with a pocket full of change. Compare that with Uber – order your cab, head to the agreed pickup point, arrive at your destination, and leave the app to sort the payment for you. The experience of getting an Uber is frictionless, it removes many of the annoying quirks of having to get a cab, making the experience easier and less stressful.
Spotify is much the same. Let’s say your favourite band is releasing a new album on Friday. In years gone by you’d have to head into a record store on the day, and potentially leave empty handed if all of the copies had been sold. With Spotify, you can find the album on your phone in seconds from 12:01am on release day.
Checkout with Instagram is much the same; a frictionless buying experience. Think about how brands sell items through Instagram without this feature. You post an ad to the platform urging people to click through to your site to buy – bearing in mind that your site is probably one they’ve never heard of before and may not trust. Then they pick out the item they want, hit checkout, and then have to create an account and verify their email address before they’re finally able to enter their address and card details to finalise their order.
Of course, many user journeys through the buying process will be shorter than this, but it can be a very long process. Checkout for Instagram cuts out a lot of these extra steps, in a similar way to the Amazon checkout process. And Amazon isn’t exactly struggling for customers.
This is one major reason why I think Checkout is going to be huge in 2019. Another is the incredible power of social media to influence the kind of decisions people make when buying things online.
Social media influences buying decisions

Another major reason I think that Checkout is really going to take off is that it’s long been proven that social media influences people’s buying decisions. To be honest, I’m kind of amazed it’s taken so long for Instagram to introduce a feature that allows users to purchase products directly. Facebook executives must be well aware of how influential their platforms are on users’ choices in the market, so this seems like a very natural next step for Instagram.
Studies have shown that just over half of social media users have admitted to buying a product because they saw it on social media. To be honest, I reckon this could be even higher. After all, some people don’t like to admit that they made a purchasing decision because of the way it was marketed to them. Whatever the true figures are, the fact is that people buy things they see on social media that they like the look of. With Checkout for Instagram, that is only going to increase. It changes the thought process of a consumer from ‘Oh, that looks great, I might buy it sometime,’ to ‘Oh that looks great, I can literally buy it right now.’
Checkout is going to be huge. If you sell products online, make sure you’re across this in 2019 or you’re going to be left in the dust by your competitors. What do you think about Checkout for Instagram? How are you planning on making it part of your e-commerce strategy in 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!