Facebook Inc’s Instagram began trialing a feature on Tuesday that lets US users shop directly for products from the photo sharing app by adding a ‘Checkout’ feature on items tagged for sale, the company said.
The move is in line with Facebook’s plan to monetize higher-growth units like Instagram as the company’s centerpiece product, News Feed, struggles to generate fresh interest.
Instagram said it has partnered with more than 20 brands, including Adidas, H&M and billionaire Kylie Jenner’s booming cosmetic company and Michael Kors, on the new feature, easing into territory more familiar to retail giants like Amazon.com and Walmart.
Under the new feature, users will be able to click on a product that is featured in a post and see its price, and then click again to bring up an order form.
Users can then later checkout and choose to pay by Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and PayPal. Previously, Instagram allowed brands to link to their respective websites for users to shop.
The new feature could also turn out to be lucrative for Instagram’s ad business, which could also get a boost as Checkout could convince brands that the social network produces better return on investment since there are fewer steps before purchase. For now, only organic posts from partnered merchants will feature Checkout buttons and ads aren’t eligible.
“Facebook’s plans are to evolve Instagram and Messenger into robust e-commerce platforms where you can click on ads and buy the products,” said Ivan Feinseth, an analyst with Tigress Financial Partners.
“Facebook is also looking to incorporate payment processing and payment transfers over Messenger, further expanding its e-commerce and interactive capabilities,” Feinseth said.
Instagram, which did not specify the financial details in the blog, said it would introduce a selling fee to help fund transaction-related expenses.
The new ‘Checkout’ feature on Instagram is currently in closed beta for businesses and available to people in the US only.