October 29, 2020

Instagram will test shopping through Reels


People are silhouetted against the Instagram logo at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Facebook-owned Instagram will start testing shopping through its short-form video feature Reels later this year in an effort to monetize the recently launched TikTok clone.

Instagram will also add shopping to IGTV, where users can watch longer videos, starting Monday.

Monday’s move will appeal to creators and brands who routinely look to monetize their efforts on the app. They  will be able to add shopping tags to their posts, so users can tap on the item and shop either through the Instagram app or a retailer’s site.

Facebook has been intertwining more shopping features on Instagram over the last couple years. Most recently, it began testing a dedicated “Shop” tab on its home screen this summer. Users can already shop through regular Instagram posts, Live, Stories and its Explore feed.

While the effort to add shopping to Reels was expected, it’s still a quick rollout since the feature only launched two months ago. But adding the shopping feature soon could give the company a leg up on TikTok, its Reels competitor.  

TikTok has been making its way into the e-commerce space. TikTok began testing new social commerce features last year by allowing some users to add links to their profiles and videos. Retail giant Levi’s was among the first retail brands to use TikTok’s new “Shop Now” feature to direct users to merchandise.

It’s also working on a deal to sell some of its operations to Oracle and Walmart, since company has been under fire from the Trump administration, which has accused the Chinese-owned app of collecting data on Americans and sending it to the Chinese government.

By teaming up with Walmart, both companies could boost their e-commerce operations, while giving the brick-and-mortar giant an edge with TikTok’s young user base. Walmart said it is still finalizing commercial agreements, but plans to provide “e-commerce, fulfillment, payments and other omnichannel services to TikTok Global.”

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