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Instagram readies shopping push with new features

What it would look like to shop on Instagram Explore. Photo: Instagram

It's about to get a lot easier to shop on Instagram, with new features that'll allow you to succumb to your impulses with just a few clicks.

Why it matters: The updates could help Instagram gather insights and data to help launch a standalone shopping app, something it's reportedly working on.

What's new: Instagram will now let users buy things with Instagram "Stories," or vertical strings of video and text that are becoming one of the most successful social media formats.

  • It's also creating a new, personalized channel for users within its discovery section called "Explore" that's specifically for users to follow brands for shopping.
  • Vishal Shah, director of product management at Instagram, said at Recode's Code Commerce Monday that the new offerings will allow users to shop in two different ways on the platform: 1) Serendipitous shopping through stories and feeds and 2) Intentional, window shopping through "Explore."

One player that stands to benefit from Instagram's additions is Shopify, the $16.5 billion e-commerce company that powers brands from Kylie Cosmetics to Allbirds. Many of the brands that advertise and make sales through Instagram ads run their stores through Shopify, and the company is betting that Instagram's new shopping integrations will increase traffic to its merchants.

The big picture: Instagram and other social media apps are becoming disruptive e-commerce players, mainly because they are able to leverage social data to better understand and cater to users' interests, as Axios has previously noted.

  • The Facebook-owned social giant says that more than 90 Instagram million accounts tap to reveal tags in shopping posts on Instagram every month. That's over 10% of its 1 million users.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect Instagram's most recent user count of 1 billion.

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