12 Solutions to Selling Products Through Instagram
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Many businesses have embraced using Instagram as a part of their company’s social media strategy. Many social networks, operate as a way to build brand awareness, and to engage with their customers in real-time. Instagram, in particular, does a great job with these two functions. But these funcions tend to live at the top of the marketing funnel (or, to use inbound marketing terminology, in the attract phase).
If social media activities – and again, Instagram in particular – are notoriously difficult to track through the marketing funnel (at least through Google Analytics’ direct attribution), then how do you determine if your activities are paying off? It’s a tricky problem that some software-as-a-service (Saas) companies are trying to solve by bringing the funnel to social networks.
This is a trickier problem for Instagram because you get one link to use (unless you’re advertising), and because it’s tough to track in your analytics software. So, if it’s harder than normal to sell on Instagram, how do you bring the marketing funnel to your Instagram fans? These innovative companies have found ways to do it.
There are three basic ways to bring the marketing funnel to an Instagram account (with some variants on the themes). Some of these have even found ways to grow your email list at the same time.
- Use the link in the Instagram bio to create a mobile gallery/storefront
- Use comments to make the sale
- Like the photo to receive emails with product links
You might be familiar with these three strategies, but thanks to technology and marketing uniting in useful ways, Instagram is now a primetime spot to sell your products to social media and Instagram enthusiasts. Here are 12 Instagram add-ons to use in your marketing.
Curalate’s customers create a gallery of images that link to product pages on the customer’s website. It allows brands to feature user generated content (UGC) in the gallery. The gallery is brandable in colors, copy, and URL. If a customer wants to grow their email subscriber list, the option for adding an email capture form to the gallery is available. Client examples: Sephora, Nordstrom, Terrain.
Piquora’s customers create a landing page of Instagram images, accessible by the bio link. Fans of the brand will the authorize their Instagram accounts, and subscribe to email updates from the retailer. As with Like2Buy, customers can buy through the landing page. And, as with Like2Buy, TapShop users’ landing pages are fully brandable. When an Instagram user likes a photo from a brand’s feed, they will receive an email with product links. Client examples: Etsy, Joss & Main.
Both Like2Buy and TapShop are large-scale solutions. Contact the companies for pricing.
Penny is an option for the small business owner who would like a (potentially) low cost solution to monetizing Instagram. Both buyer and seller need to register to use Penny, and integrate their Instagram accounts. A buyer will need to provide payment and shipping information at the time of registration. To set an item up for sale, a seller tags a product with #paywithpenny in the post comments. Buyers comment #sold on a Penny-registered post. The software handles the rest of the transaction.
Penny is free for buyers to use. Sellers pay a 3% fee per transaction. They also pay credit card fees (2.9% + 30¢). Penny has partnered with ShipStation to make the shipping process easy.
Spreesy is a unique system that uses all three different options to work for their clients. The primary method is to use the post comments to sell items. A seller creates a shoppable Instagram post using the Spreesy app (iOS and Android versions available). The post can contain unique options, shipping costs, trackable quantities, and more. A user comments with his/her email address on one of those posts. Spreesy sends him/her a secure checkout link to the seller’s branded check out page. The buyer can use a credit card or pay with Paypal.
The con to this method is that customers have to put their email addresses out there publicly. That opens buyers up to spam. But, a seller can direct customers to delete their comment(s) after receiving the invoice.
And that’s not all Spreesy can do. As a Spresy user creates shoppable posts, that person creates a shoppable Spreesy store. The store has a customized link for use in an Instagram bio. Sellers can direct their customers, on any platform, to their shop with this link. Customers will find a mobile-friendly store that makes shopping a breeze.
Finally, Spreesy has developed a way to send emails to customers. Instagram users who comment “#subscribe” and their email address will be sent a secure checkout link for any products the Spreesy merchant posts.
Spreesy is free for both merchants and buyers to use. The only fees a merchant would incur are from Paypal and credit card companies.
Soldsie is a tool that will let merchants sell on both Instagram and Facebook. For the Instagram side of things, both buyers and sellers have to register with Soldsie, and integrate their Instagram accounts first. Sellers have a Soldsie dashboard where they load their products. Then the product images are posted to Instagram.A buyer purchases product by commenting “sold.” This should also include any size/color information. The product’s caption should guide buyers with specifying product details. Soldsie emails the buyer an invoice.
Prices start at $49/month, and rise if you want to integrate a Shopify store. Soldsie has a transaction fee, which starts at 5.9%. The fee lowers as your monthly cost increases.
Have2Have.It is a Soldsie product. It operates using the link in a retailer’s bio. That link takes a buyer to a shoppable webpage. The page is branded like to match the retailer’s Instagram feed. The webpage will direct buyers to your e-commerce website where they can complete purchases.
The Have2Have.it platform has a dashboard like Soldsie. It also has customer and analytic data. And, of course, there is a cost for these extra features. Have2Have.It costs $49.99/month after a 14 day free trial. It looks like a stand-alone product, so a Soldsie account may not be necessary to use it. It’s worth looking into before investing in Have2Have.It.
Letsell.It is an app-based sales platform. Both buyers and sellers will need to download it from the iTunes App Store or Google Play. It’s free in both locations. It uses Paypal as its method of payment. Letsell’s interesting feature is its online chat function between buyer and seller.
To sell, users need to register the products with Letsell. Sellers add a description, and post a photograph. The sales process starts when a buyer likes the photograph. Once a buyer has liked a product, s/he is directed to the Letsell app. There, the buyer must confirm and complete the sale. The buyer can negotiate with the directly with the seller through Letsell’s online chat. (The seller can only start a chat after the payment confirmation is complete.) Letsell tracks all purchases/sales, records of negotiations, and so on. A seller only pays a fee when a sale has completed.
There is no easily-available pricing information about Letsell.It. No costs, fees, or other pricing information are available on their website. The product was released in May 2015. There’s just not a lot of information available about it yet.
Hashb.ag is based on using #forsale in a photo description. Buyers and sellers need to connect Hashbag with their Instagram accounts. Sellers have to verify their identities by entering their credit card information. Don’t panic, credit card information is encrypted for security.
It works like this: a Hashb.ag member Instagrams a photo of something s/he wants to sell. S/he tags this photo #forsale. Hashbag will email the seller asking for the price of the item. The item goes into the retailers personalized storefront. Hashb.ag recommends advertising the storefront in the merchant’s bio link (hashb.ag/storename). Buyers use the Hashb.ag search bar to find products they want. If the seller has a Hashb.ag store, the buyer clicks the buy button. The sale is completed through Paypal. If the seller does not have a Hashb.ag account, the buyer is directed straight to the seller’s Instagram profile.
The fee for sellers is 99¢ per item sold. Listings are free. Sellers will receive a bi-weekly invoice for any fees. Note that while this does allow people to sell on Instagram, the sale does not happen within Instagram at all.
inSelly uses the profile link to a storefront method to sell products. Users must integrate their Instagram feeds with the platform. inSelly recommends adding #inSelly and any relevant category tags. That will let buyers find your products easily. Payments are handled through Paypal. Buyers have the ability to contact sellers through a “contact user” button on the inSelly platform. Buyers can access the contact button either through an app or through their website.
inSelly is free to use for both buyers and sellers. It has an internal currency, called coins. Sellers can buy coins to help promote their listings within the inSelly platform.
Shopseen is another platform that creates a storefront using the Instagram profile link. It takes this method one step further. Shopseen integrates not only with Instagram, but with any other sales platforms you might use (e.g. Etsy, eBay, Shopify). Its order management system updates available quantities across all your sales channels. Shopseen integrates with the major shipping companies (USPS, FedEx, UPS).
To sell an item, the seller uploads a photograph of the product for sale. A price must be included in the caption of the photograph. Once the product photo posts, it’s also displayed in a mobile page where people can buy the product. Buyers access the page through the bio link. They complete the sale on the Shopseen platform using a credit card. Buyers do not need to have a Shopseen account.
Prices for Shopseen start at $29/month for 50 sales, and go up from there. Custom plans are available for shops have volume greater than 500 orders/month.
InstaOrders is a free solution to setting up a storefront. This is another platform that uses the Instagram profile link to lead to the business’ storefront. A retailer would sign up with InstaOrders, then import product photos. The seller prices the products, and starts selling. (Any products added after the initial set-up would be automatically synced to the storefront). Merchants can use whatever payment method you currently use in your business (e.g. Paypal). Sellers receive an email from InstaOrders for every sale made.
Buyers shop the storefront like any other eCommerce solution. They do not need an InstaOrders account to shop.
ShopStyle.It is the Instagram monetization solution for ShopStyleCollective. ShopStyle Collective is an affiliate link system that bloggers can use to earn money. A lot of the set-up work for any given post is completed in the ShopStyleCollective platform. There, bloggers curate their list of products that they’d want to show off in the Instagram post. Sellers share the list to ShopStyle.It, along with the photograph to use. ShopStyle.it auto-fills the Instagram description with a link to the curated product list. When someone likes a ShopStyle.It photo, that person receives an email with links to shop the products in the photo.
Buyers do need to sign up with ShopStyle.It to receive emails from the liked posts. If a buyer goes to purchase an item from the StopStyle.It email, it’s an affiliate link to the retailer’s website. At that point, it’s a normal eCommerce experience.
ShopStyleCollective membership requires membership to use ShopStyle.It.
Any one of these tools can do the job, but which one is the best fit really depends on the needs of an indvidual company. This is by no means a comprehensive list of software solutions, so please share others in the comments.
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