With Instagram doused in business and in-app shopping these days, we’re going to break down how you can make sales via Instagram, even if you don’t have the website to match!
The primary purpose of Instagram started as a photo sharing platform to connect people with one another, but as of 2020, it’s gone far beyond. These days, Instagram is a completely practical platform for growing and facilitating e-commerce, and with some know-how and dedication, you can set your profile to be a successfully running (and selling) Instagram shop.
For some businesses, it doesn’t make sense to move their entire operation onto Instagram, especially if they already have a solid outside sales platform or process. For some businesses, however, the simplicity and straightforward nature of sales via Instagram is absolutely what they need to get those profits up without too much of a headache.
How To Sell On Instagram Without A Website
In this article we’re going to go through all of the whys and hows of selling on Instagram including reasons for doing so and a variety of ways to get your Instagram shop live.
No matter if you’re just starting out or already have some business years under your belt, we’re sure that you’ll find some valuable information that can help you expand your horizons and business opportunities.
Reasons For Selling On Instagram
Here we repeat that not all businesses will thrive through Instagram selling due to the different methods that Instagram implements for shopping on the app. We’ll go through these in detail, so you’ll have a better idea if they’re something that could work for you. Depending on your demand and also on your order facilitation methods, you may find that Instagram sales isn’t for you.
But! There are still benefits to be seen. So before we get into the how, let’s think about the why.
Selling on Instagram is simple
Instagram has a level of simplicity to it that allows for a direct line of communication between buyer and seller. It can be as easy as a quick message to purchase, and it’s really that simple.
This is, of course, not the only way to conduct sales via the Instagram platform, but as long as you’ve got the account, you’re basically at least halfway to selling your products. When setting up an e-commerce website there can be a lot of technical elements that go into; while even today there are platforms that help to make this transition easier, sometimes it can still cause complications if you don’t have any experience in managing online sales.
Instagram is a more “get-up-and-go” model and can be a lot more straightforward since many of us are already familiar with the functions of Instagram.
Buying on Instagram is simple
Not only is it easy to sell on Instagram, but it’s just as easy to buy. If you think about the social funnel, or the user experience while buying something on Instagram, they first see something they like. Thanks to Instagram, they can easily proceed to buy this product in-app, which makes it easier to convert this admirer into a buyer. It streamlines the purchasing process and doesn’t force the user to jump through too many hoops in order to buy your product.
Since you’ve already got a following on Instagram, you’ll have an embedded level of trust with your followers, and therefore, your customers. These days, there is so much activity from users in relation to businesses and brands it’s almost unbelievable. According to Instagram itself, over 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile per day, and 60% of users say they discover new products on Instagram. That’s not all! A whopping 80% of users follow at least one brand on Instagram, and we’re fairly certain the other 20% are ghost follower accounts! No, but seriously, those numbers are huge. And they say a lot about the amount of trust that people put into Instagram.
If you think about the roots of Instagram, it began as a social network, which it ultimately still is. We feel that we can connect with people on Instagram, and when we’re communicating with people via the app, we’re getting a real human interaction. This plays a big role in the success of selling through Instagram. Users are much more likely to trust you and your recommendations if you have a credible profile and presence on the app and in your niche.
Another good thing about Instagram is that you can use your follower base to help you do your own marketing. How? Think about this. If you have clients that have purchased from you, ask them to take a photo of them using the product or service in some way! In an ideal situation, you may not even have to, as they’ll be so excited and satisfied with the product that they’ll do it themselves, whether it’s through an IG post or story. Regardless of if you ask them or they do it themselves, you now have something called user-generated content. When you share user-generated content, your engagement goes up as well as your credibility. This strengthens your bond with your followers and encourages them to trust you.
Is Selling On Instagram For Me?
The short answer is YES. If you have a business and are looking to sell products, at the very least, you should be using Instagram to funnel traffic to your e-commerce platform. Let’s look at the longer answer to get some more details.
As we mentioned earlier, if you already have a well-developed e-commerce platform with a long track record, selling on Instagram probably isn’t going to replace your current selling model. That’s not to say you couldn’t add to your current selling model by incorporating sales on the platform, but you’ll want to consider your current volume and methods of order processing.
If it’s feasible for you to include in your current e-commerce model, the more the merrier. In-app shopping is a huge draw for many businesses these days, and if you are using a website to sell your products, in-app shopping might make a big impact on your sales if you incorporate this into your model. We’ll talk more about this in subsequent sections.
Regardless, You should be including your direct website link in bio to funnel users from your Instagram to your e-store.
For those just getting started, Instagram is a great place to begin your sales– if you’ve got a limited budget to get things rolling and you want to start getting your product out there while developing your platform, look no further. You can use comments and DMs to navigate sales, and since things are just getting started, this is a perfectly manageable way to conduct business. Once you get more developed you can also have a direct link in your bio to your product website and build up from there.
This comment/DM shopping method is, of course, probably not effective for businesses that have established e-commerce platforms and fulfillment procedures, but both new and established businesses can benefit from the other shopping features on the platform. Before we look at in-app shopping, let’s examine some pros and cons of selling from comments and DMs.
Selling from DMs
It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you post your products, and advise users to DM you if they’d like to make a purchase. Once someone reaches out to you for a purchase, you’d need to gather basic e-commerce information like shipping details and payment information (we’ll talk more about this later), and then you’ll process and complete their order.
As for payment, it’s up to you on how you’d like to charge your customers, but with the plethora of pay apps out there these days the possibilities are endless. If you’re us-based, services like Zelle (through banking apps) or PayPal, or apps like VenMo and Cash App are all widely used and totally acceptable methods of payment. You can also consider accepting cash upon delivery, but use with caution. Don’t attempt to ask people for their personal banking or card information via the internet– it sounds like a no-brainer, but this can jeopardize your credibility immensely. Keep your customers and their information safe.
Using DMs for sales is a great option for local or personalized services because it requires that you make a connection with your customer and can help to build the customer relationship. It’s also straightforward and they know they’ll be attended with great service directly with the seller.
On the other hand, it can become time-consuming since you have to manually respond and fill every order. If you start getting a lot of orders, it may become tedious or confusing to manage. If you have detailed conversations with customers, you’ll have to go back and scroll through to find information you’re looking for if you don’t have a central hub to store this info. Furthermore, some people just don’t like dealing with social interactions and would rather see updates as their order goes through the fulfilment process.
Selling Through Comments
Although it may be a bit less straightforward than selling in DMs, selling through comments is also a possibility.
This was more commonly used back before Instagram offered the plethora of features it does now, but it can still be useful depending on your needs.
The basic premise of this feature is to post what you are selling, instruct users to type something like “SOLD” and their size or color or feature, and then contact each user individually to complete the purchase.
Already this can seem time consuming but it really depends on what you are selling and the quantity of buyers you have.
At the end of the day, you’re still going to need to contact them directly in order to make a sale, so using this feature really depends on your customers and what you find works best for you.
The pros of using this method are that you create a direct connection with your buyer, and you also don’t need to create or manage a website to facilitate sales.
On the other hand, it’s not a very streamlined process and can end up being tedious in finishing the sales process or confusing if you have a lot of orders and can’t remember who you responded to or how you fulfilled their order. You’ll also have a bunch of DMs in your inbox, and perhaps some users won’t respond or don’t follow through. This can also be frustrating.
Overall, if you aren’t looking to set up a website and just want to get some products out there, this can still be a good place to start. How sustainable it is over time depends on how your business flow moves.
Shoppable Instagram Posts
One of the most groundbreaking features for selling on Instagram was the introduction of Instagram shoppable posts. This is truly the game-changer for businesses on Instagram and if you’re not using it but you have an online store, you should probably be asking yourself why.
The great thing about Instagram shoppable posts is that you can post photos of the item(s) that you are selling, and then that will link to your e-store directly in the Instagram app.
Users can click through to directly purchase that item and don’t ever have to leave the app. They just click “checkout,” follow the instructions, and ta-da! Finished. You’ve got yourself another buyer.
How great is that? Talk about straightforward and streamlined. Doesn’t get much better than that, especially considering the facts that we mentioned earlier about the sheer number of users that follow and interact with businesses and brands on Instagram. Also, people look to Instagram to find new products, and if they can easily check out in a few taps, they’re likely to be converted right then and there without much hassle.
So, what would be the drawback in using this feature?
Well, it does hone in on one product in specific, so if you’re hoping for users to buy multiple products through browsing on the website or offers on multiple item purchases, this feature probably won’t benefit you. It could potentially decrease the amount of traffic to your website, so if you really need people to visit your website for your offers or information, you may be disappointed.
Furthermore, not all shopping platforms may be supported when using Instagram shoppable posts, so first you need to verify that your platform is supported, and if not, you’ll either have to forgo it altogether or you’d have to change to a supported platform, which could be a huge hassle.
For this reason we say that selling on Instagram may not be for everyone. If your platform is supported, however, it may not be a bad idea to test out a few posts with the shoppable feature so that you can compare your conversion rates.
One good thing about the shoppable post feature is that it can deter people from backing out of a purchase and leaving the site with a full cart. The process is so quick that it doesn’t allow the buyer to consider whether or not they’re really making a smart purchasing decision, and therefore actually promotes the idea of an “impulse buy.” This is the most effective example of the social funnel that we mentioned earlier, which means your conversion is bound to be positively impacted.
The good news is that it does seamlessly integrate with some e-commerce platforms, so if you already sell on one of those platforms such as shopify, you’ll have absolutely no problem here and it will avoid all of the issues you’d find when selling through DMs or comments.
The biggest consideration here is truly whether or not you want a decrease in traffic to your website and how you can balance sales via shoppable posts and direct site.
Instagram Story Shopping: Swipe Up
Instagram posts aren’t the only ones that are shoppable these days; you can also use Instagram stories to promote products and then include the “Swipe up” option to take users directly to buy. Using this in addition to shoppable posts can take your Instagram to a new level of social funnel.
Link in bio shopping is a practical way to balance between shoppable posts, your website traffic, as well as offering another way to shop on the Instagram platform.
The key here is that in the bio of your profile, you drop your direct link to your website. Here, when users click, it will open up your e-commerce website directly on the app, and the user can then navigate it and shop right there.
For ease of use, you’ll see many stores now using likeshop.me to make their link in bio optimized for shopping through product and link directories. Another option for creating link directories is linktree. Depending on the size of your business and your platform interface, it could be a great option for you in streamlining all of your shopping options.
If your operation is smaller and you’re just looking to give your users access to your direct link, you can still do that and it will still open your content in the app. You can direct users to your store this way in your post by including the text “link in bio” which people will then reference.
As you can see, if all of your posts say “link in bio,” this causes some trouble for people to find the product that they’re looking for, which can result in the user simply saying “nevermind.” This is where link directories become more attractive. Also, if you put a “link in bio” text on your picture, you’re just hoping that people actually go and check it out. It leaves more time for them to become disinterested.
That being said, people are comfortable using websites for shopping, and if they truly want your product, they’ll go through the process. Furthermore, you probably want to be using a combination of the shop features on Instagram, and regardless of whether or not you use shoppable posts and stories, you should always include your website direct link in your bio.
If you have a business and you sell products online, or you’re looking to do so, by now you probably see the immense value that Instagram offers in its wide reach of audience and its streamline shopping features to maximize social funnel. The statistics don’t like– people trust Instagram and look to its users and brands to show them what’s on the market these days. Instagram knew this, and that’s why Instagram shopping exists in the capacity that it does.
Regardless of your current setup, if you’re not taking advantage of Instagram in some way for your e-commerce business, you’re probably sitting on a missed opportunity. Be inspired by the innovative technology at our fingertips in 2020 and dive into the possibilities of Instagram selling.