Instagram is currently rolling out a new feature within Instagram Stories  that lets businesses tag products so that customers can shop directly within the app.
Susan Buckner Rose, Director of Product Marketing, Instagram Business Platform said in an email to Small Business Trends, “The Shopping in Stories feature allows people to shop products directly from their Instagram Stories. Essentially, when you see a sticker with a shopping bag icon, the user can tap on it to see more details about the products in the Story.”
How to Get the Most From the New Instagram Shopping in Stories Feature
The Shopping in Stories feature is currently only available to a limited number of retailers. But as it begins to roll out to more businesses in the coming months, it could prove to be an asset to small retailers. Here are some tips for making the most of this feature and increasing your sales using Instagram Stories.
Explain the Feature to Followers
Once the feature becomes available to your business, it could be beneficial to create a Story that briefly explains to customers how it works. Since it’s new to them too, it can help to provide some guidance so they aren’t left guessing.
Build Buzz for New Products
If you’re going to sell products directly within Instagram, it also makes sense to use that same format to build excitement about those products. So as you’re working on a launch, you could use Instagram Stories to share some teasers or behind-the-scenes shots of the product in action. You could even try promoting the product exclusively to Instagram followers first to see if it’s worth offering to a wider audience.
Buckner Rose shared an example, “Mindy’s Bakeshop  used Stories to test interest for a product. Over the holidays they launched a DIY holiday cookie kit and had such a positive response via messages that they decided to sell it and ultimately sold out!”
Keep Content Personal and Casual
Though this new feature can help you make actual sales, it shouldn’t take away from the overall feel of Instagram Stories, which can be a great outlet for authentic and personal interactions with customers.
Buckner Rose suggests, “Continue to share more personal and engaging content that your users love and look forward to, but make sure new products are highlighted and tagged.”
Tag Multiple Products
Each Story doesn’t just have to feature one product on its own. You can give followers the ability to shop around and view different options by tagging multiple products within the same Story or set of Stories.
Review Stories Carefully
However, it’s important that you make it clear what products are being tagged, especially when you’re including multiple options. The tag, which is where the shopping bag icon should appear in each story, should be directly on or near the actual product pictured so that it’s clear to customers. Make sure you review each Story before posting and look at it from the point of view of a customer.
Show the Product in Action
Instead of just posting a boring photo of your product with a plain background, use Instagram Stories to provide a more interesting context for your products. You can show them in styled shoots or just out in the wild so that customers get a different look than what’s included in the simple product photos on your website.
Get Customers Involved with a Hashtag
You could even aggregate some content from your customers by introducing a product or brand hashtag and then repurposing the content that customers share of your products in use.
Ask for Input on New Products
To encourage even more engagement with customers, you could include them in the process of actually developing your products. Use polls to ask them about color preferences, size options, and other dilemmas you’re faced with when creating new products so they feel involved and end up with a product that matches with their preferences.
Buckner Rose says, “305fitness  frequently uses the polling feature in her stories to engage directly with their followers and make them feel like they are part of the process.”
Experiment with New Features
And polling is just one of the new features that have made an impact on Instagram Stories over the past year or so. With all of those changes, you can play around with the variety of features to find the mix that seems to work best for your particular business.
Buckner Rose says, “Since last year, Instagram has rolled out over 20 new features within Stories — including Boomerang, @mentioning and linking to other accounts, filters, text overlay, stickers and drawing tools. These new elements will help businesses share everyday moments in fun and clever ways.”
Pay Attention to What Resonates
As you experiment, keep an eye on what types of Stories seem to resonate most with followers. What types of images lead to more sales when you tag products? What format leads to more messages from followers? Keep track of these metrics so you can determine the most effective strategies going forward.
Buckner Rose says, “Experimenting with new kinds of content is great but the most important tip is to use insights to learn more about what kind of Stories content resonates most with your followers. Once you know what your audience likes best, it takes the guessing and prep work out of the equation.”