Re-imagining the Instagram E-commerce feature.
Instagram is a free photo and video-sharing social networking application that connects you to the world. The app allows you to follow users interested in and connect you to brands you love and creators. The contents posted by these users create a feed on your homepage where you are allowed to like and save the posts, comment or share them on your story or with other users.
Instagram has more than one billion monthly active users, with 500 million daily active users, making the app the second-ranked traditional social network.
What is an Instagram shop?
Instagram shopping was a thing before the e-commerce feature was launched. As an active user, I’ve made purchases using the app before the introduction of the shop.
Shopping on the app involves a process where small and large scale business owners showcased their products on their timeline. Users interested in the products send a direct message and purchase a said product outside of Instagram.
Instagram introduced a feature that allows businesses to create a storefront where their products are showcased and promoted with a product catalog integrated into their business profile.
It gives users access to explore different products, share and purchase them without leaving the app.
What this means is, unlike the traditional shopping style where users communicate with business owners directly, users can get whatever they want from a store without speaking to the seller.
And also, all purchases are conducted and completed within the app.
So, Instagram plays the role of the middleman between the business owner and the customer.
To re-imagine Instagram e-commerce means looking through the app and understanding why different features exist, the thought process behind this feature and the shortcomings.
To improve on problems this feature currently has.
To re-imagine an E-commerce feature that provides users with a straight-to-the-point and accessible shopping experience. Users can pick items from different shops, add them to their bags, pay for them using the already existing Facebook pay and receive their items anywhere home.
Two-thirds of Instagram users are between the ages of 18–45. Most people use smartphones, understand how Instagram works, and do most of their shopping online.
The research goal was to gain insights into different users’ problems and problems while the feature and to do this means to empathise with them.
To achieve this, I conducted online and offline interviews with a group of twenty active users who shop online frequently and who have used the app shop feature.
Six of the users had never used the feature and didn’t even know it existed.
Some of them admitted to not continuing with the shopping because of the long and tedious checkout process.
At the end of this research, I was able to get thirty responses from people.
Problems discovered from this research
- Long purchase process:
The response I frequently got from this research centred majorly around the purchase process. A user described it as thus;
Long and confusing. I added items to my Wishlist and then moved them to the cart, which was equally challenging. I gave up.
Users are redirected to the website to complete their purchases, hence their inability to do that within the app. This defeats one of the significant purposes of the feature.
One of the users was in a different geo-location from most of the others. Though they experienced a similar long purchase process, their experience was slightly different as they could finish their purchases within the app.
- Limited shopping options:
Shopping options are minimal. Users have to visit the brand’s website to be able to get the entire product catalog
- Navigation around shop
Going from the Wishlist to where users can add items to their carts was a bit hard to navigate as some users tried and failed to add things they picked to their cart.
- Purchase Process
From the research, I was able to identify the user pain-point as the purchase to complete part.
One of the principles of a good design is that it should be usable and help users accomplish a task.
Users aim to complete in a store to purchase whatever item they want with little or no hurdles.
Users should do all shopping and checkout within the app to reduce the purchase process.
For geo-locations where users can’t complete buys within the shop because of restrictions (e.g., Nigeria), the shop feature should not be available to them till they can enjoy the full benefits it offers.
- Product catalog
There’s a limit to products business owners can add to their catalog. This may be one of the reasons there are limited shopping options. The limits can be increased to contain more items.
This way, more products are displayed on the brand’s product catalog to reduce sending users to the website.
Features added/improved on
- Shopping bag for easy access to check items picked
- Sort and Filter to streamline user’s search.
- Reviews and ratings enable users to make an informed decision before purchasing a product.
- Add to bag feature so users can easily add items directly to their shopping bag.
Features added/improved on
- Message icon (on the far left as opposed to being down)
- How to use / Reviews feature
- Add to bag and buy now buttons.
- Product size and quantity needed.
- Continue shopping and check your bag buttons.
Features added/improved on
- Shopping bag for items check before checkout
- Delete button for items user is no longer interested in
Part of what I have learned in this early stage of product design is to study different day-to-day features, apps, design and everything in general, identify what problems they have, understand the thought process behind some of them and try to proffer a possible solution.
I started with Instagram because it has become a huge part of my daily life.