How to Sell on Instagram with Shopify to Bring in More Customers
November 18, 2021
The benefits of selling online are many and various. Compared with a brick-and-mortar retail setup, your online store can reach shoppers all over the world, and you don’t need someone to operate the cash register.
Beyond that, you aren’t limited to one way of selling.
Not only can you sell from your Shopify store, but you can expand to other sales channels where your potential customers hang out.
With the introduction of Instagram Shopping and Instagram Checkout, it became a powerful force for ecommerce brands.
Where Instagram previously excelled at driving engagement for ecommerce brands, it now could also become their store away from their homepage.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Reasons to sell on Instagram
- How to set up Instagram Shopping
- Connecting Shopify with Instagram
- Adding your Instagram feed to Shopify
- Tips for effective selling on Instagram
To begin, we’ll talk about a few of the compelling reasons for selling on Instagram.
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The question is, why wouldn’t you sell on Instagram?
There are so many reasons to start using Instagram as a sales channel. Let’s look at a few big ones.
A huge and active user base
With more than 1 billion active monthly users (and 500 million daily), Instagram is a powerful platform for acquisition.
Not only that, but 90% of accounts follow at least one business on the platform.
No wonder it’s such an attractive place for businesses to showcase their products. People use Instagram to shop, and you should be there with everyone else. The top Shopify stores know the value of being on Instagram, so follow their lead.
80% of people use Instagram to research products and services. To be in front of prospective customers when they are making decisions is huge. Don’t miss out.
You can sell directly on Instagram
With Instagram Shopping and the checkout feature, you can sell your products straight from the platform.
Use product tags on posts, Stories, IG Live, and advertisements, then let them buy directly within the app.
Then they can continue scrolling their feed, knowing something special is on the way and it was so easy to buy.
People shop with their eyes
What we buy is based mainly on how it looks. While it definitely matters how it functions, how it looks matters most when shoppers are considering a product.
Half of Instagram accounts use the Explore feature every month—a visual feast of posts from across the platform, many of which are from brands like yours.
Over 80% of consumers say they use Instagram to discover new products or services, and nearly the same number say they use it to make their final purchasing decision.
And this isn’t only about Instagram posts. The Stories feature is extremely popular with more than 500 million accounts active on it every day.
Creates a great customer experience
With Instagram Checkout, customers can speed through the checkout process by doing it all within the app, ultimately increasing your conversion rates and making their experience top-notch.
This cuts out friction from the buying process, and your new customers come away with a high opinion of your brand, increasing the possibility of subsequent sales.
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What is Instagram Shopping?
Instagram Shopping is the overall capability of merchandising your product across your Instagram account. This consists of many features.
- Throughout Instagram, visitors can shop your products through product tags within your posts, videos, Stories, and ads.
- Your shop on Instagram is an image-heavy mini store where you can show off your products for purchase.
- Visitors can view your product detail page by clicking on a product from your shop, complete with an image gallery and product description.
- With Collections, you can categorize your product lines into themes, just as you do on your Shopify store.
- Finally, you can use Instagram Checkout to complete the purchase in-app (or send them straight to your Shopify store).
It isn’t tricky to get started with Instagram Shopping. Let’s break it down, step-by-step.
Step 1: Confirm the eligibility of your brand and products
Like with any platform, you want to make sure your products comply with the policies. Take a look at their Commerce Eligibility Requirements before you go any further.
You also need your own site domain, which won’t be a problem for anyone with a Shopify store.
Finally, see that your country is a supported market for the service.
Step 2: Create an Instagram business account
You can’t unlock the powers of Instagram Shopping if you aren’t using a business account.
If you are, great work. You can move on to the next step.
To switch to the business account:
- Head to your profile
- Click the menu icon in the upper right corner
- Go to Settings
- In the settings menu, click Account
- Click the link at the bottom that reads “Switch to Professional Account”
With a business account, you’ll not only have the ability to sell on Instagram, but you’ll also have access to helpful analytics that will give you insights to grow your business.
Step 3: Connect your Facebook business page
To make your Instagram shop operational, you’ll have to connect it with your Facebook page.
If you don’t already have one, you can create one. Integrating these two properties opens up the ability to run ads, share posts on both platforms, and unite the messaging tools they offer.
Step 4: Add your products to Instagram
Now that your business is official across Facebook and Instagram, it’s time to get your products uploaded.
Once your Facebook sales channel is connected, your product catalog can automatically sync with your Instagram and Facebook shops, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
You can add products manually, but for Shopify users, the simplest way is to upload them directly from your store.
Step 5: Start tagging and selling on Instagram
Once you get your products added, you can turn on Shopping features.
Then you can begin tagging your wares in your posts, Stories, IG live videos, and ads so that people can buy directly from your fancy new Instagram account.
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After following the steps above, you should be most of the way to selling on Instagram. But, a vital piece of this is getting your Shopify products into your Instagram shop.
Let’s figure it out.
Step 1: In your Shopify dashboard, add the Facebook sales channel
In the menu along the left side of your dashboard, you’ll see a SALES CHANNELS section, under which you’ll find your Online Store.
Next to SALES CHANNELS, there’s a plus icon. Click it, and you’ll get a menu of available sales channels to add to your store.
Click the green plus icon next to the Facebook option. This will bring you to a screen detailing the permissions required for adding this sales channel.
Click Update sales channel. Facebook will now show under your SALES CHANNELS in your dashboard.
Step 2: Set up Instagram Shopping in your sales channel
In your Facebook sales channel, you’ll see some options for getting started.
You’ll go to the “Sell your product on Instagram” section and click Start setup for our purposes here.
It’ll have some recommendations for a smooth review process, such as using an established Facebook account, having admin permissions for the account, and having already switched to an Instagram Professional account.
You’ll then review the terms and conditions and request approval. This will take 1-2 days, as they review your products.
Step 3: Add your products to Instagram
In your Instagram app, go to your business profile options and click Settings.
Go to Business > Shopping, confirm your Facebook account, and choose your product catalog. Click Done.
With your Facebook sales channel in place and all of the little details worked out, your products will automatically sync from your Shopify store to your Instagram and Facebook shops.
Your product visibility will automatically change to include your new sales channel. To make any changes to the visibility of any individual product, just go into that product’s edit page to update those settings.
Step 4: Update your checkout method
In your Facebook sales channel commerce settings, you can choose between two checkout options: Directly on Facebook and Instagram or Your Shopify Online Store.
Both options have benefits and limitations, but if you want to create a friction-less sales option within Instagram, you should set up Instagram Checkout.
With that, you need only start customizing your Instagram shop to reflect the beautiful customization of your Shopify store.
Now that you have your Shopify store on your Instagram account, here’s how you can add your Instagram to your Shopify store.
You’ve done all the work to capture amazing images for your Instagram, so why not pull all that great content back over to your Shopify store?
There are a few ways to do this. In our guide to the best Shopify apps, we highlighted Instafeed, which gives you the ability to add customizable Instagram feeds to Shopify.
If you’d rather keep your app stack minimal, Shogun can help bring your Instagram feed to your store as well.
It just takes a few steps to add your Instagram feed with Shogun. Here goes:
Step 1: Drag the Instagram element where you want it
After navigating to the page you want to add your feed to in the Page Builder dashboard, you scroll down to the Instagram element and drag it to your desired location.
Once in place, you’ll need to point it to your specific Instagram account.
Step 2: Add your Instagram account and authorize
To add your account the first time, you just need to click the link to add your account.
You need to be signed into the account you want to add, so make sure you do that first. You’ll be asked to authorize Page Builder to use your account.
Once authorized, your feed should start showing up.
Step 3: Customize your Instagram feed
With your feed in place, you can now change the appearance to fit your brand.
In the Controls tab of the element menu, you can change the number of columns, the number of posts, the vertical and horizontal spacing, and how you want the images to display in your feed.
In the Styles tab, you can update many of the stylistic components of your element, such as margins, padding, dimensions, borders, alignment, background, and visibility.
In the example below, you’ll see three variations of the same Instagram feed with changes to the number of columns, number of posts, and spacing.
You can make your feed display exactly as you like to show off your unique products. A perfect way of bringing your two storefronts together.
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With your brand new sales channel in place, it’s time to maximize its conversion potential. Here are some tips to get you from good to great.
Use stunning photos
Just like with your Shopify landing and product pages, the use of incredible photos is non-negotiable.
On Instagram, it’s the difference between someone scrolling right on past and someone pausing to investigate.
Capture their attention with powerful product images that highlight the specific details of your offering and what it looks like in action.
To create great product photos, here are some quick tips:
- Great lighting is your friend. For great natural lighting, shoot during the early morning and late afternoon. Utilize reflectors and light diffusers to get the lighting just right.
- Stay consistent. The look of your photos is reflective of your brand, much like your brand voice. Stay consistent across your collection and make sure the images are of high resolution.
- Show your product in use. Great lifestyle photos show how your product can fit into your customers’ lives, and studio photos follow up with the little details.
- Edit your photos to perfection. While it’s tempting to go from shoot to publish, you’ll want to spend some time editing your images for the best brightness, sharpness, color, and background detail.
Video drives engagement
Great photos aren’t where it stops, though. Make those images move with engaging video content.
One study found that 84% of people said they’d been convinced to purchase a product or service by watching a video from the brand.
A good mix of videos and images can nurture engagement with your brand, increasing awareness, likes, shares, clicks, and ultimately, purchases.
You can also take to IG Live to connect with your followers in real-time, even dropping product tags so they can buy directly from your live stream.
Reels are another excellent option for creating short TikTok-esque videos to share with your fans.
Don’t sleep on Stories
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, over 500 million people use Instagram Stories every single day. So many people!
In a survey, 58% of people said they’ve become more interested in a brand when they’ve seen it in Stories. Plus, half of respondents said they’ve visited a website to purchase something after seeing it in Stories.
So, obviously, you need to take advantage of this powerful tool.
You can use it for your organic followers and expand your reach by utilizing Stories ads interspersed within users’ organic Stories roll.
Take advantage of your profile
Many users will navigate to your profile to learn more about your brand and your products.
Choose a profile image that represents your brand well and can be easily understood at the small scale at which it displays. Often this will be your logo.
Your bio is one of the only places where you can describe your brand on Instagram. Use the small space wisely. Quickly describe what your brand is about, using emojis as needed to draw interest, and finish with a URL.
This is the only spot you can use a link, so choose a good page to link out to. You can change your link whenever you like, depending on what’s going on with your brand at the time.
Curate fantastic user-generated content (UGC)
Your loyal customers aren’t just a great source of recurring revenue—they can also be a powerful marketing asset.
Put the call out for UGC and add those candid images to your Instagram feed.
This not only creates great engagement and relationships with your existing customers but also engenders trust in potential customers. It illustrates the excitement your product has earned and how your product looks/fits on real people.
Create strong captions
Pair your amazing photos with captions that drive the message home. They add context and tell your audience what action they should take.
It’s also a great place to show off your brand personality, creating a unified brand experience throughout all your properties.
Here are a couple tips to make your captions count:
- Keep them short. Instagram is very visual, and users don’t come to read a novel. Don’t overexplain. Instead tell them precisely what they need to know and drop your CTA.
- Proofread your content. You want to get the post out quick, but you want to make sure it’s correct. Give it a once-over before publishing to make sure it sounds good and is free of errors.
- Include a call to action (CTA). Each post should give users an opportunity to do something. What do you want them to do? Make it clear at the end of your post.
Take your hashtag game to new heights
Using hashtags is a great way to improve the visibility of your posts by showing up for trending terms in Explore. Don’t stuff your post with them, though. Be purposeful.
Use relevant hashtags that actually have volume. If nobody is searching for it, you are just wasting space in your caption.
When used correctly, hashtags can increase your reach and drive up the performance of your posts.
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Capture new eyes with influencers
You can only reach so many people with your posts, Stories, Reels, and ads. But new audiences await you with the help of influencers.
With a built-in audience, influencers are the combination of advertising and social proof. Their followers treat their brand plugs as more honest than traditional marketing, boosting your brand’s estimation in their minds.
At the same time, they are cheaper than traditional advertising, so it is a big win both ways.
You can either go searching for influencers to approach about a partnership or use influencer marketplaces to use as a middleman for your influencer marketing.
Drive sales with gorgeous ads
A huge benefit of adding the Facebook sales channel is that you can create impressive ads across both Instagram and Facebook that are targeted to your ideal audience.
You can manage all your ads from Facebook and even use a pixel to track the actions customers take on your Shopify store for creating better ads.
Your ads can come in many forms—photos, videos, Stories, slideshows, swipeable carousels, and more. Get in front of more people really fast.
Sell smarter with social sales channels
Your Shopify store is your headquarters, but there are many different ways to sell online.
Utilizing channels like Instagram and Facebook to expand your sales reach is a powerful way to grow your business. With Shopify, it’s super easy to make this a reality.
Adding your Instagram feed to your Shopify store via Shogun Page Builder keeps that uber-visual channel ever-present on your central store, driving customers to engage further with your brand.
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Sean is one of Shogun's tireless content marketers. When he isn't creating exciting ecommerce content, he's probably biking or at the park.