How to Sell on Instagram: 5 Tips for eCommerce Stores

May 30, 2017 - Joshhow-to-sell-on-instagram-for-ecommerce-stores

Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most important channels for your eCommerce store. It is already a fantastic platform for product discovery with 60% of users saying they have discovered new products on Instagram and 80% saying that they follow a business.

Indeed, more and more people are discovering and shopping for items with a mobile-first approach, and, among mobile apps, Instagram is becoming the clear winner. But do you know how to sell on Instagram? And what kinds of Instagram marketing tips can help you?

Today I’m going to go over 5 up-and-coming Instagram updates and show you how to create content that will help you sell your products on the world’s most popular image-sharing network.


1. Show behind the scenes with Instagram Stories

Snapchat introduced us to the power of ephemeral messaging, but SMEs are still struggling to find a strategy that works on the growing messaging service. So when Instagram released their competing “Stories” option, it became an instant hit for Instagram users and businesses alike.

In fact, Instagram just announced that 200 million people use Stories every day and ⅓ of the most viewed Stories actually came from businesses!

Now that Instagram has switched to an algorithmic approach for their photo feed, you can’t guarantee that your followers will always see your main photo posts. Unlike the photo feed, the user will see all of their Instagram stories at the top of the app each day. So by creating stories, you can ensure that your customers will still see your content each day.


Showcase product development and special events

So far, the best use case for Instagram Stories for business is to showcase what goes into your product and any special events you have coming up.

Are you taking product photos for an upcoming new release? Share the journey of your product with your followers as a quick Story about the photoshoot.


Don’t stress about the quality

The beauty of Stories is that the production quality doesn’t have to be particularly high; in fact, most people expect quite the opposite.

Caitlin McGarry at Macworld summed it up well:

When you’re ready to add to your story, think candid. This isn’t an expertly filtered take on life, though you can run your ’gram through a rudimentary filter. You know all those photos you discard before you find the perfect one to post on Instagram? Those are perfect for your story.

Use these otherwise discarded photos to tell the journey of your product and brand, which the user can learn more about by clicking through to your main Instagram account.

The storytelling aspect of Instagram is moving away from regular posts to channels like Stories, which is great news for businesses because channels provide more opportunities to organically showcase your products. With a channel, you can show a series of content as opposed to a singular photo, allowing you to more easily incorporate branding aspects while still having the content seem organic.


2. Provide more context with Galleries

Storytelling is clearly the theme for product releases this year at Instagram, and galleries are another tool to help you weave your tales.

Instagram galleries allow you to share up to 10x more content than you previously could in a single post. Your followers can now simply swipe left on your photos to view more.



Source: Instagram’s Business Blog


Say goodbye to cramming photos into collages and hello to new possibilities like scrollable panoramas.

Galleries help you:

  • Stand out amongst the rest of your user’s Instagram feed and
  • Achieve greater engagement on each of your posts as users spend more time scrolling through your content.

To achieve this though, you need to create content that ties closely together to tell a story.

Most importantly, galleries are a way to create larger stories, not cram multiple posts together. Paired with Instagram’s new soon-to-be-released shopping feature (see Tip #5 below), galleries could become the defacto post type for eCommerce stores on Instagram.


3. Harness the power of your community  

We cannot overstate the impact of having a trusted community built around your brand. More than just spreading awareness or working with influencers, having a community allows you to build authority around your product by showcasing it from the perspective of the people who actually use it.

Images are a great medium for doing this, and Instagram is built around helping your community capture and share their love of some of the products in their lives.

E-commerce watch store Daniel Wellington is an expert is harnessing his Instagram community. In just five years, it has grown from a $15,000 startup to a world-renowned brand with $220 million in profit – largely on the backs of their 3 million strong Instagram community. They grew so large so quickly by working with influencers and showcasing photos their customers had tagged them in while wearing their product.

By using a mix of Instagram Stories, community-created content, and promotional posts, Daniel Wellington keeps its fans both entertained and engaged.


Source: Daniel Wellington Instagram


4. Always be on with real-time content

Shortly after Stories was released, Instagram also came out with a new way to share in-the-moment content: Instagram Live. Similar to Facebook Live videos, you can now create a live stream video on Instagram.

Real-time content helps you sell on Instagram by releasing images at a specific time. Instagram helps you promote live content by sending a notification to the user that you have started a live video, which creates a sense of urgency as the video will usually disappear once it is complete.

You can use live videos effectively in a number of ways by taking advantage of their time-limited nature and the instant feedback they offer. Q & A sessions are a great use case. Try holding a live video with an industry expert or influencer where you can talk about their experience and offer your followers the opportunity to ask questions. Or next time you’re at an event, try starting a live video to see what your followers are interested in seeing more of.


5. Get ready for Instagram Shopping

Without a doubt, Instagram Shopping will be the biggest tool that helps your eCommerce business. It solves a big problem eCommerce businesses had with trying to capitalize on their content promotion. The problem was this:

People love discovering new products and brands on Instagram, but finding the best way to funnel them towards a purchase has required either:

  • hacking solutions together using links in the profile bio or
  • using Third-party software like Snapppt that allows you to embed a shoppable Instagram gallery into your webpage.

A sales functionality had never existed within the app itself – until now.

Instagram Shopping is the company’s attempt to create an embedded checkout process – enabling you to finalize sales straight from the app! Although it has so far only been available to a handful of brands, Instagram Shopping will soon be rolling out to Shopify and Bigcommerce platforms for certain industries.



Source: Instagram


Use different kinds of pictures in your selling strategy

Once you are able to use Instagram Shopping, what else should change in your marketing plan? Your pictures themselves.

Instagram and its business users knows that to be effective you can’t just put a link to the product in the post description. Serious consideration is given to any purchase. In fact, in Instagram’s early research they found that only 21% of purchases happened on the same day.

Shopping will allow you to close the sale by adding deeper context to your photos; you can add a whole gallery of products that are featured within the Instagram photo.



Source: Instagram for Business


To capitalize on these new connections, it’s important to have a mix of different product photography throughout the buying process. Users are captivated by seeing your product in real-life, interesting situations that spark their imagination into seeing how they might use that product.

But… when they decide to purchase, users want photos that focus on the product and its details.

This is where proper product photography is important and tools like Pixc can help.


It is an exciting time to start creating a serious Instagram strategy for your eCommerce store. In the last eight months, Instagram has released three new tools that have all become extremely popular in their own right. Over 400 million people use the service everyday and all signs point towards Instagram increasing their focus on tools for businesses.

With these 5 tips, you can now get started with a tool like Websta to search for brands that are in your niche on Instagram and see how they are using the platform. If you want to keep updated about new releases, make sure to follow the Instagram business blog. And Facebook has several courses on using Instagram as a business if you want to take your Instagram marketing to the next level.

Marketing has always been about telling stories. With Instagram’s new changes, you will be able to use its storytelling power to directly convert your community-building into sales and start capitalizing on the Instagram marketplace.


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