Your customers may soon be able to buy your products directly from your Instagram feed.

Instagram is reportedly working on a separate e-commerce app, the Verge first reported Tuesday. People familiar with the matter told the Verge that the app may be called "IG Shopping" and will let users browse goods from businesses that they follow and purchase them directly within the app.

In late August, Ashley Chapman, head of Instagram's fashion and entertainment communications, told Inc. that Instagram planned to "expand its shopping team" based in New York City. The company had recently renovated its New York office located in the old Wanamaker building to accommodate its growing staff. The 290-person team, which includes the "shopping" group, will expand to 350 by end of year.

Launching a standalone app suggests that Instagram is making a major move into the $3 billion e-commerce market. According to the company, more than 200 million people look at the Instagram feeds of one or more brands a day. Sixty percent of people say they discover new products on Instagram.

More than 25 million businesses have Instagram accounts, and two million are advertisers, said Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Instagram's parent company, Facebook, during a recent earnings calls

While Chapman had told Inc. the exact timing of a new shopping feature launch was unknown, the brand has been experimenting with gradually rolling out some of its functionality. In November 2016, Instagram began testing a shopping feature in which businesses can tag products in their posts, and a user can then click through to the business's website if he or she is ready to buy. Instagram opened up the feature more broadly last March to businesses that sell apparel, jewelry, or beauty products. In June, Instagram began expanding the shopping functionality to Instagram Stories, a feature that lets users post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Instagram has long been a platform for product companies to power their sales, even before there was an easy way for consumers to make purchases directly through the app. Revolve, an online clothes retailer reportedly on track to generate $1 billion in revenue, took off via Instagram after it launched in 2003: Women's Wear Daily reported in October that up to 70 percent of the company's overall sales are driven by an influencer, or an Instagram user who's paid to plug the brand's products to her thousands of followers.

Other startups have been working on making Instagram posts shoppable. For instance, after realizing there weren't fashion bloggers who looked like her, last year founder Esosa Ighodaro created CoSign, an app that allows users to tag their favorite products in their pictures with details about the brand, retailer, and price. Shopify has also created plug-ins related to promoting and managing Instagram-based businesses.

Published on: Sep 5, 2018