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Instagram to build standalone shopping app

Instagram is reportedly developing a new standalone app dedicated to shopping, to allow shoppers to browse and buy products directly.

Tech website The Verge has reported that the app – which may be called IG Shopping – would allow users to browse products from brands they follow and purchase within the app.

The release date of the app is not yet known but The Verge reports sources as saying the social media app feels well positioned to make a push into ecommerce.

Earlier this year Instagram made it possible to shop from its main app by clicking on in-picture tags. 

Instagram declined to comment. 

Petah Marian, senior editor of retail intelligence at trend forecaster WGSN, said while shopping via Instagram was nothing new, she was unsure about the success of a separate app. 

“From a retailer’s perspective, being able to shop on Instagram has been the holy grail for retailers for a long time … [so] from a content, commerce integration perspective, it makes sense [for Instagram to do this]. And people want to be able to shop their Instagram feeds. Whether they want to go to a second app, to do so, I’m not sure that will be the case. But we’ll see.”

The issue, she added, will be if IG shopping is a product-led platform. “The reason Instragram is so successful is it’s pitching a lifestyle, rather than a product.”

Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency, London School of Fashion, agreed. ”My natural inclination [to the news] was wouldn’t it have been better if it was just within the same app … [but] I wasn’t hugely surprised. Instagram has made numerous attempts to make the standalone app as it is shoppable.”

From a retailer or brand’s perspective, the platform is likely to become yet another social channel they need to create unique content for, he said. ”Retailers are making marketing content for Instagram Stories, for IG TV, for Instagram, for Twitter … I think there is a really big question of what more do we need to see that’s not been done through something that already exists?”

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