Instagram has become a popular destination for retailers to post product photos in hopes of selling their wares. Perhaps the bazaar-like feel or focus on discovery explains its appeal, but regardless of why retailers use it, many have found a home there.
While large brands such as handbags retailer Coach testify to marginal lifts in conversions and average order value, smaller online businesses are experiencing success, as well. Here are nine smaller businesses that use Instagram to foster ecommerce sales.
1. Fox & Fawn
Brooklyn clothing boutique Fox & Fawn is one of the most talked about smaller businesses making use of Instagram. The company posts pictures of products for sale in its store and, according to owner Beverly Hames, items often sell out in a matter of minutes.
Since Instagram provides no direct means of transacting payment, purchasing a product takes some effort. Customers have to leave a comment beneath the picture of the product to reserve it, and then call the store to buy it using their credit card.
Even thought Fox & Fawn is a local business with two retail locations, its customers hail from all corners of the U.S., and even other countries.
Prep Obsessed, a boutique specializing in nautical and preppy-chic merchandise, ran a test sale on Instagram for its 1,700 followers.
Using social commerce platform Soldsie, which has developed a method for retailers to sell directly on Instagram, Prep Obsessed sold nearly as much merchandise as it does via its Facebook page, which numbers more than 25,000 fans.
“Instagram is the preferred channel for some of our fans. We saw a different type of response here when we put up some of our most popular products,” said owner Corey O’Loughlin. “It was a much more leisurely shopping experience, and the fans loved it.”
Each time Miranda Jade Plater, co-owner of the hair extensions retail store Limelight Extensions, posts photos on Instagram, the phones start to ring, according to an Inc.com article that featured the company. It stated that one photo alone netted $10,000 in sales.
To grow her follower base, Plater pays local models and reality show stars to promote the company on their Instagram accounts and include a link back to the Limelight Extensions account. Some 27,000 people now follow the company.
Yumbox, a manufacturer of lunch boxes designed to help parents pack healthy lunches, reposts photos of customers using its products.
Customers are asked to use the hashtag #Yumbox. Since hashtags are clickable on Instagram, finding photos is easy and has the added benefit of encouraging others to post their pictures to the site.
Shwood Shop makes sunglasses carved out of wood. The company uses Instagram to show the creation process accompanied by two hashtags: the generic “#sunglasses,” and one that is also the company’s tagline, “#experimentwithnature.”
6. Hard Graft
Hard Graft, a maker of fine leather goods, benefits from customers who share the more than 1,500 photos posted to the company’s Instagram account. These often come with commentary and reviews about the products, which provides the company with valuable customer insight.
New York City-based online clothing retailer Bonobos uses the popular Throw Back Thursday (#tbt) hashtag to play on people’s love for nostalgia, and as a way to generate interest in its products. The company also reposts photos of customers wearing its products, essentially turning them into models for the brand.
Shopatrend, a retailer of women’s clothing and accessories, uses Instagram to share the latest fashion trends with its 6,500 followers. Each photo generates an average of 150 likes.
Instagram has become the main sales channel for Beaufort Bonnet Company, a retailer of upscale baby items. The company attributes approximately 80 percent of sales to the platform.
“Not only does Instagram drive our web sales, our wholesale inquiries keep citing Instagram as the way they discovered The Beaufort Bonnet Company,” said owner and designer Markey Hutchinson in an interview with Forbes. “Between our posts and customers posting pictures, it has been a major contributor to our growth, success, and ability to define our brand.”