Instagram's new shoppable photos are a glimpse at its e-commerce future

Instagram's new shoppable photos are a glimpse at its e-commerce futureInstagram influencers have long tried to hack the app to make money by putting "purchase link in bio" when they photograph something you can buy. The company has noticed, so now it's making it easier for users to make purchases from within the app — but only for certain brands.

Starting next week, select iOS users will see shoppable photos with a white icon displayed on the lower left corner. Tapping it reveals the items in the photo that are available for purchase, and clicking it takes you to the product’s description page. To buy, you’ll have to click another link that leads you to the retailer’s website.

Instagram currently allows brands to promote products using an ad format, but the new shopping feature can be applied to regular posts as well. It’s partnering up with 20 retail brands like J.Crew, Kate Spade, and Warby Parker at launch, and plans to expand globally. No word on whether that means non-retailers like celebrities and influencers will be able to take advantage of the feature, which opens up big monetization potentials for Instagram. However, it’s also got potential to be insanely spammy and off-brand (detox teas, anyone?), so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the company limit this to just brands for the foreseeable future.

For now, Instagram says it’s working on features like product recommendation and save for later before fully rolling out to the rest of the US.
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