We may be one of the last generations to remember “going to the mall” as a social activity with friends. I fondly remember walking around freely as a middle schooler with my friends, popping in and out of stores to check out whatever caught our eyes without our parents’ commentary. The mall was teeming with big groups of kids, teenagers, and adults all doing the same. Today, the number of malls is down significantly. Even if you still have a mall near you, the place feels like a ghost town; the halls remain empty and noiseless.
In general, brick and mortar stores have been losing to e-commerce. Consumers enjoy the convenience of shopping whenever, however they would like, and searching online for exactly what they desire. Consumers have shown a willingness to pay a premium for even everyday objects, like food or toiletries, delivered to their door. However, the current system does not have any emulation of a “mall”. There are few places where you can browse multiple brands at a time and shop, and even fewer where you can have a social interaction about the object. Many consumers follow favorite brands on Facebook and Instagram, but have to follow links to the brand’s specific website to finish a transaction.
Instagram is beginning to roll out a solution for this. Instagram sees itself as the new mall, where consumers already browse and follow fashion brands. The new solution will allow consumers to purchase products seen on Instagram without ever leaving the application, removing previous friction and possible confusion. Instagram plans to save consumer’s credit/debit card information for an even smoother experience. Transactions done through Instagram will require the brand to pay a small fee. This creates a whole new business for Instagram. Many sites can advertise, but few can offer advertisements the consumer can act on seamlessly. Instagram likely hopes to boast a very high purchase/click-through rate for these kinds of advertisements, proving that a brand can reach consumers who are ready and willing to purchase through the platform.
Do you think this is a worthwhile investment on Instagram’s part? Do you see yourself or friends using this functionality?