Instagram has delivered one of the most significant updates to its app since the launch of Instagram stories in 2016, integrating shopping in the UK to the online platform.

Businesses can now tag products in their posts, boosting their customer reach and making it easier for shoppers to quickly locate and purchase products seen on the app.

© Instagram
© Instagram

The Facebook-owned company has embedded this new feature for users, with easy access to pricing and product details, just at the tap of a button or tagged post that appears on the feed. This reduces the hassle of searching for products online when seen on Instagram posts.

Instagram previously tested shopping on the platform as part of the Instagram for Business tools update last year. However, this test saw US-based retail brands deliver a 'tap-to-view' method that appeared on the bottom left of a photo post, which then showcased up to five products and their prices.

US-based retailer Lulus is one business that has been using the shopping feature since the early stages and has seen over 1,200 orders and 100,000 website visits since.

The new update to the app, which has over 200 million users, will seek to enhance the shopping experience for UK retail customers.

"People come to Instagram every day to discover and buy products from their favourite businesses. We want that to be a seamless experience. Whether it's a local artisan, florist or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier," said Jim Squires, head of business at Instagram in a statement.

Read next: Instagram stories vs Snapchat stories: has Instagram broken the law? Who wins the battle of the social media giants?

One-tap shopping experience

As its UK community continues to grow, currently at 23 million businesses and people, Instagram is looking to update the app for an enhanced user experience.

Popular UK brand Marks & Spencer, luxury swimwear brand Heidi Klein and slippers brand Mahabis were given access to trial the new feature.

Each brand experimented with shopping posts during the test phase, which ranged from flat lays of multiple products to single-product close-ups with details such as product material, sizes and pricing.

"It's going to be a huge help as we know that people use Instagram as a place to be inspired, and I think what this [Shopping in the UK] does is really join some of those dots between inspiration on the Instagram platform and conversion on our site," Amber Spencer-Holmes, head of marketing at Heidi Klein told Techworld at the Facebook building near London's Tottenham Court Road.

"For us, it also means that it's more qualified traffic on our site as customers have already seen the price, which I think in the luxury sector, is important. I think more and more it’s going to cement that behaviour of that move from inspiration or discovery to conversion." 

The integration allows businesses to tag up to five products per single-image post and 20 products per multi-image post. It also includes shopping insights for business access, such as tap to reveal, product details and clicks on 'shop now' per post.

"We've asked Instagram for us to be able to tag stories and videos, because we’ll actually be using more and more video content," said Spencer-Holmes. "One thing we've been trying is to create a carousel so you've got the video on the first slide and then product slides following that.

"For us, we're going to continue to experiment with the types of posts that work best, whether it's single product focus or multiple products. I think the whole Instagram world is going to be super excited to start using it, and hopefully we can hang onto our first move for advantage," Spencer-Holmes added.