A pilot social commerce partnership between Instagram and BigCommerce, an ecommerce software solutions company, has been expanded. The tie-up between the social media giants and software company was first launched almost a year ago, in November 2016 and now all of BigCommerce’s U.S.-based clients will be able to publish ‘shoppable posts’ on Instagram. At present that includes around 50,000 SMEs, 2000 mid-sized enterprises and over 25 Fortune 1000 companies. BigCommerce will also be hoping the expansion of the tie-up will encourage plenty of new clients to take up subscriptions for its e-commerce platform, which currently has exclusivity on the shoppable posts trial on Instagram.
Instagram, which has become the favoured social media of large swathes of the influential 15-24 years old demographic in recent times, started testing shoppable tags last year. 20 U.S.-based online retailers were invited onto the pilot project, launched in partnership with BigCommerce, a shopping-cart software provider founded in 2009.
Because captions attached to Instagram posts cannot include clickable links, the ‘shoppable’ tags are the most direct way for retailers to get Instagram’s 800 million regular monthly users onto their e-commerce websites. Prior to the current pilot’s launch, the only way for retailers to try and leverage an Instagram following was to link posts with online stores via third-party applications. The BigCommerce tie-up allows brands to manage everything from one platform, with sales taking place within Instagram itself.
Like every social media platform, Instagram’s main challenge has been translating large numbers of users into sustainable revenues. The rise of social commerce over the past couple of years is likely to go a long way towards helping Instagram sustainably monetise its quickly growing user base. The company has doubled the number of advertisers paying to reach its audience from 1 million to 2 million between March and the end of September this year.
Like Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, revenues come from advertisers paying to be able to display their posts in the feed of users who are not their followers. While Facebook has not yet made any figures on Instagram’s advertising revenue publicly available, it is thought that progress being made is justifying the huge acquisition price of a social media company that had no revenues at the time.
When the shoppable tags functionality will be made available internationally and when Instagram will allow other e-commerce platforms in on the action is not yet clear. However, industry insiders expect the BigCommerce social commerce pilot to move into a full roll-out on Instagram at some point next year.