instagram ecommerce

How augmented reality can boost Instagram ecommerce

By Cristina Ferrandez

Since Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012 the app has come a long way, from being primarily a place for users to share photos, to now becoming an essential platform for retailers thanks to the Instagram ecommerce offerings.

A decade after the purchase, influencer culture’s rising importance has led brands to consider more informal ways of interacting with their customers. As a result, the trend of sponsored ads, videos, brand partnerships, and collaborations continues to rise. However, even if your brand has already partnered with an ambassador to increase consumer interest in your products, this is still only the first step towards turning engagement into a sale. 

Within the traditional ecommerce sales funnel, you would never link a customer to a subpar or difficult-to-navigate web page. The same should be true of your social media accounts. With social media being the place where an increasing number of buyer journeys begin and end, every account your brand owns needs to be optimised to make purchasing easy and efficient. As Instagram is now the number one platform used by consumers to make purchases through social media, maximising your brand’s efforts on the photo-sharing platform is vital.

Instagram ecommerce: how does it work?

instagram ecommerce
There are multiple ways of integrating Shops into your brand’s Instagram offering (Source)

The platform of choice for 92% of social shoppers, Instagram has two of the best offerings that brands can use to showcase products in a way that leads directly to a sale:

  1. Instagram Shops (essentially virtual storefronts).
  2. The ability to incorporate AR technology into an Instagram Shop (to provide a virtual fitting room for users).

An Instagram Shop is a feature of your brand’s Instagram page and can be utilised in a few ways. You can configure your brand’s Instagram Shop as one of the tabs extending from your main photo feed (other tabs might be IGTV videos and tagged photos). 

Product tags are also an efficient way of bringing customers into your Instagram Shop; when you upload an image, you can tag up to five products within the post. This feature can turn a photo post into something like a print ad you might see on a billboard or in a magazine. However, instead of the customer having to sift through a website to find the products advertised, they can click on the tag provided and be brought straight to the product page, where they can view product details and complete their purchase. 

Instagram’s Checkout feature, where shoppers can buy straight through Instagram without ever navigating out of the app, is relatively new but helpful in securing a sale.

Another option is to create a carousel post, where users can swipe through multiple images with multiple tags in each image. This method can be particularly effective due to Instagram users’ tendency to swipe through a post that appeared as part of their feed or Instagram Explore page rather than click onto a separate profile. User experience on Instagram is an amalgamation of split-second decisions, so optimising ease is crucial

Another way to show and link more than one product is to add them to an Instagram story, which you can also save as a highlight if you’d like users to have access to it for longer than 24 hours. If your brand page has more than 10,000 followers, you can always utilise the swipe-up feature when you add products to a story, linking customers to your website. Even if you don’t have access to the swipe-up feature, you can still add tags to your stories to bring viewers to your Instagram Shop’s product pages.

How brands are leveraging AR for Instagram Shops

instagram ecommerce
AR virtual try on is a hugely popular feature for beauty and cosmetic brands (Source)

Some of the world’s most progressive brands are already using Instagram ecommerce offerings. One of these is the global sportswear brand Adidas, which features an Instagram Shop tab next to their well-curated regular profile. However, with the option to incorporate AR virtual try-on, cosmetics and beauty brands in particular have made excellent use of the Instagram ecommerce experience. 

What is AR and how can you use it? 

instagram ecommerce
Augmented reality has a huge variety of uses for progressive brands (Source)

Virtual try-on is one use of augmented reality technology. More broadly, however, augmented reality is a digitally enhanced experience within real-world surroundings (usually through your phone camera). In the world of marketing and commerce, augmented reality is used online or in stores to help customers visualise products on themselves and in their own spaces or provide 3D depictions of products. Typical uses are cosmetics, glasses, and furniture. 

One company already employing AR on Instagram is the highly innovative beauty brand MAC Cosmetics. With AR virtual try-on, cosmetics shoppers can use their front-facing selfie camera to see what their face will look like wearing virtual versions of real-life products. MAC currently has filters for eyeshadows, lipsticks, and glosses. Though engagement boosting AR features are presently restricted to products used or worn on the face, they’re not limited to just makeup. Optical frames and sunglasses companies are also getting in on the technology, with well-known brands like Ray-Ban and Warby Parker offering virtual try-on as part of their Instagram Shops as well.

While Instagram AR try-on is currently only offered for cosmetics and eyewear brands, a more expanded AR offering, including furniture, is under development. 

Why offer AR virtual try-on?

Augmented reality advertising is a fast-growing field, but its popularity is not simply a trend. Besides giving consumers a novel way of interacting with your brand, there are other advantages to virtual try-on experiences. 

While many brands are using AR technology on their websites, which is also beneficial, integrating your Instagram brand page with an Instagram Shop and an in-app virtual try-on and checkout brings a seamless purchasing experience for customers. For increasingly digitally native consumers, merging try-on with the front-facing selfie camera both feels natural and allows people to share photos of themselves modelling products, which in turn increases brand awareness and engagement. 

Additionally, traffic to your Instagram page can easily be directed to your website or brick-and-mortar stores. It’s increasingly the case that instead of traditional storefronts opening online shops, previously online-only retailers are gaining success and opening in-person stores that offer blended buying experience. Ecommerce is becoming the new standard, and developing AR offerings within all your online platforms is an easy way to remain on the cutting edge.

Getting started with Instagram ecommerce AR

If you are in an industry that could benefit from developing AR content for your Instagram ecommerce store, Poplar Studio can help. Whether you need guidance generating a virtual try-on for your online or social media shop or want to develop more targeted ads, we make things easy for both you and your customers. Pop over to our website to check out some of our previous work or contact us if you want to take it to the next step.

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