Contrary to earlier reports, Instagram is not rolling out a standalone IG Shopping app just yet. However, the company is making some updates to shopping that show its focus on e-commerce is only getting stronger.
First up is an expansion to shopping in Stories: After testing shopping stickers in Stories this past June, Instagram is releasing the feature globally. The stickers will show either a standalone shopping bag icon or a shopping bag icon with the full name of the product, and you can tap on them to get more information on what someone is wearing. (These are similar to the product tags you already see in posts on your feed.) You can't buy the product on Instagram (at least, not yet), but you can click on a link to the store's website to buy it there.
This update isn't revolutionary, but it does mean the test was a successful one and that people are using the tool to shop within Stories. According to Instagram, one-third of the most-viewed Stories are those posted by businesses, so this could be a major asset for smaller companies that are doing the bulk of their sales on the app.
The second, more exciting announcement coming out of today's shopping update is a new, dedicated shopping channel in Explore. Instagram redesigned the Explore feed earlier this year to include category tags along the top of the page (i.e. style, humour, food), as well as a more personalised "for you" category that curates your experience to include posts you might like based on who you follow and the types of posts you tend to click on.
Given the discovery element of Explore, it makes sense to introduce shopping here. You'll see it listed along with the other categories at the top of the Explore feed, and you can click to find new brands and products that might pique your interest. For anyone who is already shopping on Instagram — whether through posts or scarily on-point ads in their feed — this promises to be an easier way to have the same experience in one section of the app. It also makes shopping on Instagram more intentional, rather than being something you're inadvertently pulled into while scrolling through your feed.
The shopping channel in Explore will start rolling out today and will continue to expand in coming weeks.