Updated Jan 15 2024
What’s one of the top four social networks worldwide with more than 500 million daily active users? Instagram, of course! Once a basic image-sharing platform, Instagram has experienced unprecedented global growth, making it a prime destination for ecommerce brands to market and sell their products. After all, where else do consumers spend an average of 29 minutes daily?
Of all social networks, the Instagram app is one of the most trafficked by consumers of all socioeconomic backgrounds and varying degrees of spending power. Top brands have already cashed in on Instagram selling, but smaller accounts have been left to wonder how to sell on Instagram successfully. If you’re unsure how to sell on Instagram, tune into this step-by-step guide.
Ecommerce entrepreneurs who understand how to sell on Instagram can transform a basic Instagram account into a bonafide social marketplace.
Numerous Instagram features, such as paid advertisements and Reels, help make ecommerce products more discoverable to a target audience.
Shoppable posts and Checkout on Instagram allow users to browse ecommerce products and make purchases without leaving the Instagram app.
If you are an ecommerce operator looking to build brand awareness, enhance customer engagement, and drive ongoing sales, Instagram is by far the way to go. With nearly 1.4 billion users worldwide, ecommerce entrepreneurs can easily take advantage of the massive Instagram social network to boost exposure and direct potential customers toward an emerging ecommerce brand.
Instagram is a social media platform that thrives on visual content, making it the perfect location for online stores to showcase products through Image and Video Feed Posts, Stories, and Reels. Even better, the recent addition of shoppable Posts and Checkout on Instagram allows users to browse products, add items to a cart, and check out all directly from their Instagram accounts.
Instagram has become the go-to platform for creating aesthetic content that makes ecommerce products more accessible than ever before. With the ability to showcase your products, engage with customers, and craft a recognizable brand, here’s how to sell on Instagram in seven simple steps.
Even with upwards of 1.3 billion active Instagram users worldwide, failing to nail down a proper niche will only cause you to struggle to capture customers’ attention. So, selecting a specific niche is vital to determine the types of products you sell and who you sell them to. Your potential customers are referred to as your target audience. Selecting a niche allows you to tap into audience demographics, like interests and buying behaviors, to create highly engaging Instagram content.
When selecting your niche, first consider your general interests and the product types you wish to offer. Using Instagram as a market research tool, you can browse trending accounts, posts, and relevant hashtags that align with your interests to understand which niche and product types have the strongest demand. Some popular niches often found on Instagram include eco-friendly apparel and accessories, unique wall art, custom drinkware, and personalized photo books.
The rate of Instagram shopping success your brand experiences on a day-to-day basis heavily relies on how many followers you have. Putting in the effort to attract and maintain a strong Instagram following will not only increase the possibility of ongoing Instagram sales but also support stronger lead generation, brand awareness, and the constant attraction of new followers.
It’s essential to remain consistent with your posting and engagement efforts to grow your Instagram following effectively. Instagram users are far more enticed to follow and interact with your page if they frequently encounter interesting, high-quality content showcasing your brand. Likewise, routinely respond to comments and Story replies to encourage users to follow your account.
If you’ll be using the Instagram platform for ecommerce, switching from a personal profile to a business profile is helpful. Why? Because you must convert your brand account from a personal Instagram account to a professional account to gain access to the many Instagram shopping and business tools, such as paid ads, insights, scheduled posting, and shoppable Instagram posts.
Fortunately, creating an Instagram business profile is pretty simple. Open your Instagram app and toggle to your Settings. Click on Account, and hit Switch account type. Once the switch is final, you officially possess an Instagram business profile! From here, you can access the platform’s many business tools and open the door to a successful virtual Instagram shop.
Now that you’ve switched over to an Instagram business account, you can create a Shop that provides access to various Instagram shopping capabilities, including product tags, product launches, and product catalog development. However, before setting up your online store, Instagram will require you to review their Commerce Eligibility Requirements to ensure you offer eligible products, verify your business website domain, and confirm you are in a supported market.
After checking off each of these eligibility requirements, you can move forward with setting up your Instagram Shop. Similar to a business account, setting up your Instagram Shop is painless and will simply require you to go back to Settings and select Creator. Click on Set up Instagram Shopping, where you can complete the various setup stages, including website verification, sales channel selection, checkout preferences, and product catalog optimization.
With your shop ready to go, now is the time to tap into the power of your newly acquired Instagram shopping tools — especially shoppable posts! Shoppable posts look like regular Instagram Stories, Reels, or Feed Posts but also include product tags to inform users of a featured item’s name, pricing, and ways to buy. Shoppable posts can either appear organically on a user’s Instagram feed and Explore Page or display as a paid advertisement (if you wish to invest in those services).
However, when your followers log into their Instagram app and begin browsing their feed, the last thing they’ll want to see is a wall of shoppable posts. It’s important not to rely on shoppable posts alone to keep followers engaged. Instead, give users a nice mix of organic content alongside your product-heavy Instagram Posts and Stories. As a general rule of thumb, try to shoot for your Instagram content feed to consist of 20% shoppable and 80% regular Posts, Stories, and Reels.
In addition to organic posts, an Instagram business account enables you to run paid ads across the platform. On a small scale, your shoppable posts can be run as paid advertisements with the same functions as above — the only difference is that the post will be promoted to the user's feeds and flagged as sponsored content. Other popular types of ecommerce Instagram ads include:
Story ads that promote your Instagram profile
Image and video ads that advertise your overall brand
Carousel and collection ads that display multiple products
Explore and Reels ads that can contain multiple product tags
You can construct various ads on the Instagram ads manager, where you’ll need to set your ad budget and schedule, define the audience you wish to target, decide on ad placements, and select the specific ad format you wish to use (such as image, video, carousel). Bear in mind that you need a Facebook page to access the Instagram ad manager and connect your business page.
If you’ve been on Instagram lately, you’ve likely noticed the increased number of Reels popping up across the platform. While the Instagram algorithm is subject to countless changes, Reels are rumored to be a shortcut to land on more users’ Explore Pages. Some brands even claim that including Reels in your social media strategy can enhance your engagement rate by up to 500%!
Remember that these posts can also be equipped with relevant product tags when developing Instagram Reels to showcase your brand and products. These product tags allow users to review product details and purchasing methods to encourage a sale quickly. To make sure your Reels stand out from your competitors, experiment with the various audio, AR filters, and text capabilities that appeal to your niche target audience and drive stronger engagement.
With the right steps for launching an Instagram shop powered by the many readily available Instagram shopping features, you're officially on the road to sales success! But don’t just stop there. Take a look at these sales-boosting strategies for how to sell on Instagram like a total professional!
When it comes to social media, user-generated content is priceless to enhance brand awareness and build trust for an online shop. As the name might suggest, user-generated content (UGC) refers to images, videos, and other types of media created by real users of your product. It’s vital to monitor your brand hashtags and mentions and repost UGC — with the creator’s permission, of course!
If you check the hashtags for your brand and discover there’s not much content beyond what you’ve produced, make it a point to ask your customers to create some. For instance, you can launch a product giveaway and encourage followers to post a picture or video of them using your product with a certain hashtag to earn entries. The more entries that roll in, the more UGC you receive!
Instagram influencers are social media micro-celebrities who have already built a massive following and, oftentimes, notability amongst certain niches and product markets just like yours. Social media influencers are typically open to the idea of becoming brand ambassadors for various companies in exchange for payment, complimentary products, or even their own social media exposure.
If you wish to collaborate with influencers to boost exposure, you must conduct market research to determine which individuals are representative of your brand. These individuals should align with your brand’s general niche and boast an Instagram following that matches your target market.
While hashtags are used across every social media platform, they’re a primary feature on Instagram. On such a massive network, Instagram hashtags are often used by brands to make their content more easily discoverable and provide users with a simplified method of locating certain content.
For example, #mensfashion and #customizableclothing are great examples of hashtags that can help Instagram users to discover content from brands that pertain to specific niches. However, these are still very broad hashtags, so be sure to include your branded hashtag with other relevant hashtags to help users quickly discover your content and locate your brand’s Instagram page.
Remember those shoppable posts we’ve been talking about? Checkout on Instagram is the secret ingredient for that! Most shoppable posts direct users to an ecommerce website to make a purchase. Checkout on Instagram allows users to purchase directly from the Instagram platform. Checkout on Instagram dramatically simplifies the shopping experience so eligible sellers can process orders and securely collect customer payments directly on the Instagram App.
Chances are, you’re guilty of scrolling on Instagram just like the other 500 million active users that spend nearly a half-hour on the platform daily. Now, imagine if you could place your products directly in front of those millions of users… by learning how to sell on Instagram, you can! Even better, you can power your Instagram products with low-cost, high-reward print on demand (POD).
A POD provider like Gelato enables entrepreneurs like you to turbocharge your online sales without ever handling inventory or packaging customer orders. And with an industry-leading production and distribution network, Gelato can get your custom products into the hands of your customers faster than ever before. Start selling on Instagram with Gelato print on demand!
Yes! You can utilize ecommerce features on an Instagram business account to create shoppable posts powered by Checkout on Instagram. Checkout on Instagram allows sellers to process orders and securely collect customer payments directly on the Instagram App, making the purchase process dramatically simpler and more appealing for online shoppers.
No, selling on Instagram does not cost money, and there are no payment processing fees. However, additional Instagram shopping features, such as paid advertisements, will require payment.
Yes and no. Instagram is a highly visual platform with high traffic and no platform fees, which makes it ideal for selling ecommerce products like apparel and accessories. Etsy is a dedicated ecommerce marketplace that provides additional selling tools but with various extra costs like listing fees.