Instagram is making headlines today over the fact it’s apparently building a standalone shopping app that could move the company into the realm of e-commerce, one of those things that if true actually just builds on a smart understanding of what people already do with the platform.
Plan a trip, for example, and you’re probably already checking out images of hotels for where you’re headed or looking for ideas for restaurants to try. Retailers big and small are already all over the platform and use it to push beautiful product imagery at you as a glorified advertising channel. So why not keep you right there to close the circle and actually buy what you need? Instead of hopping off and shifting to, say, Amazon?
Reporting from The Verge identifies the possible name for such a standalone app as IG Shopping, a styling that’s reminiscent of the standalone IGTV YouTube competitor Instagram rolled out earlier this year.
There are a lot of reasons this a smart move on Instagram’s part, if it indeed comes to fruition. The app has grown exponentially in terms of prominence within the Facebook empire, as people shift so much of their casual social consumption to it and away from Facebook proper, which keeps becoming more of a must-have channel that people don’t love so much as they tolerate it. To keep in touch with family, some friends – you’ve heard all the familiar reasons.
There’s still tons of goodwill, however, for Instagram, and herein is both the opportunity and the challenge for the Facebook-owned enterprise. One of the things users most love about it is it’s simplicity, which can be in danger of getting overrun with the additional bells and whistles that keep getting added to the main app. IGTV hasn’t exactly been a rousing success yet, because let’s face it — the bar is so high for an app (like IG Shopping) to clear to get into your daily routine, with most of us sticking to a small set few of apps.
“Four in five Instagram users follow at least one business,” according to The Verge. “Creating a standalone app would allow the company to provide a dedicated home for an increasingly popular activity on Instagram while also expanding opportunities for revenue. Over time, Facebook could introduce more tools for merchants who are building their businesses on Instagram, directly challenging e-commerce platforms like Shopify, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.”
Which underscores, if anything else about the shopping app news, why Facebook is such a powerful company and has risen to the prominence it has. Like one of those mythical beasts where you lop of the head and it keeps roaring and keeps on coming, the company is studying us all closely and keeps shifting, keeps changing, arranging things so that no matter what we want or how our behaviors change, the big blue empire will somehow always be there. In the form of either the main app, others like Instagram, or even something new entirely.