Selling on Instagram just got easier for small businesses. Currently, most businesses use Instagram for e-commerce by communicating with customers via the comments section, then using third-party payment processors like PayPal to complete transactions. Now, a new service makes it possible to streamline the process by linking Instagram posts directly to a business's online store.
Curalate, a visual analytics and marketing platform, launched Like2Buy today (Aug. 28), an app that helps businesses turn Instagram into an e-commerce powerhouse. Like2Buy aims to enhance and automate Instagram selling, at the same time driving sales by improving the customer experience and increasing consumer engagement.
"Instagram turns creativity into commerce by changing the way consumers engage with products from their favorite brands," said Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Curalate, in a statement. "With Like2Buy, Curalate is providing retailers the most seamless and secure method of driving traffic and revenue from Instagram." [See Related Article: 11 Social Media Selling Solutions for Small Businesses]
Monetizing Instagram is a challenge for many businesses. The site doesn't allow users to add links to their posts, making it virtually impossible for shoppers to instantly purchase products they see and love on Instagram. This used to require the additional step of scouring a business's website to find product links. Like2Buy eliminates this time-consuming hunt by linking Instagram posts to product pages, giving customers direct access to what they are looking for so they can make an immediate purchase.
How Like2Buy works
The program works by turning a business's Instagram feed into a shoppable photo gallery. The gallery is located outside of the Instagram platform and is accessible via a personalized Like2Buy URL. From there, buyers simply click on an Instagram post of a product they are interested in to complete the purchase at the business's online store.
The service doesn't link from the Instagram app itself: Instead, it essentially duplicates a business's Instagram account into a Like2Buy-hosted feed. This provides a workaround against Instagram's restrictions on adding clickable URLs to posts.
In terms of the actual purchase, Like2Buy doesn't process or complete transactions. It works independently of a business's e-commerce website and thus doesn't require any third-party payment processors or gateways to function. All transactions take place on the business's online store and are completely separate from the Like2Buy platform. The service simply acts as a middleman bridging the gap between buyers and sellers due to Instagram's lack of e-commerce capabilities.
How to use Like2Buy
Businesses can launch their Like2Buy Instagram gallery in 60 seconds, the company claims. This is because the platform doesn't require any downloads or coding to get started. Once registered, a business simply needs to connect its Like2Buy account to its Instagram.
After linking accounts, using Like2Buy to drive sales requires businesses to strategically work their Like2Buy URL into their profiles and posts. As an example, this is how Nordstrom, the first retailer to use Like2Buy, currently uses the platform to monetize its Instagram account:
1. Although Instagram doesn't allow links in posts themselves, it does allow one link in a user's profile page. Instead of linking to Nordstrom.com, Nordstrom's about section links to its Like2Buy shoppable photo gallery at Like2b.uy/Nordstrom.
2. To increase engagement and drive more customers to its website, Nordstrom adds the following caption to each product post: "Check it out: You can now shop our Instagram via Like2b.uy/Nordstrom (link in profile)." Note that the link in the caption itself isn't clickable. Nonetheless, having the link there informs customers that a shoppable version of the store's Instagram account exists and tells them how they can access it.
How to sign up for Like2Buy
Like2Buy is readily available to Curalate clients. Nonclients can sign up for a free two-week trial of Like2Buy by clicking on the "Get Access" button and completing the registration form at http://www.curalate.com/solutions/like2buy.