Instagram wants to support small- and medium-sized retailers by raising the visibility of gift cards, fund-raisers and online food orders on the platform, the company said Wednesday.
The social media platform offers new stickers that can be set on photos and videos to help drive business or raise money. Brands can share them in Instagram Stories and on their profiles, and users need only tap the stickers to complete the details.
The change gives people a fuss-free way to support their favorite brands and stores, while making it easy for users to spread the word by re-sharing the stickers in Stories.
Unlike with Instagram Checkout, the system doesn’t handle the transactions directly, but rather, it takes users to retailers’ sites for purchase. It also directly supports fund-raisers hosted at Instagram’s parent company Facebook.
Instagram’s latest move appears oriented first toward the restaurant industry, but a company spokeswoman confirmed that the approach can help retailers of all kinds. And it may be of particular importance for fashion and beauty, which are fueled by massive fan followings on social media.
Stickers for gift cards, as well as food delivery orders, will go live for the U.S. and Canada on Thursday before opening up to the rest of the world in the following weeks. Support for fund-raisers will come at some point soon, according to Instagram, but it didn’t disclose a timeframe.
Retailers can use any help they can get, as a historic economic catastrophe deepens during the coronavirus lockdowns.
“Small businesses are the backbone of local communities,” said Instagram chief operating officer Justin Osofsky. “They bring people together and are the soul of neighborhoods. We want to do our part in helping them stay open, keep in touch with customers and be informed on how to navigate this crisis.”
According to the latest data from Salesforce covering the first quarter of 2020, shelter-in-place policies ignited a spike in digital shopping, mostly for essential goods such as food and personal-care products. But notably, the period also saw 31 percent growth for active apparel compared to the year before.
Some of that momentum appears to hinge on promotions. When it comes to discounts, Salesforce tracked discount rates in the U.S. jumping 34 percent in mid-March, beating Cyber Monday’s 31 percent average.
While, overall, online shops and marketplaces have seen an influx compared to physical stores, there’s no question that retail has been hobbled. Total sales cratered in March, the Commerce Department revealed Wednesday, with sales dropping 8.7 percent over the previous month.