How Will Instagram Checkout Change ECommerce

Last month, Instagram announced the launch of Checkout, a new feature that will allow users to check out products from brands from within the app and even make purchases without ever having to leave the app.

The feature works quite smoothly on the limited number of accounts that it is now available on. For instance, if you visit the @NikeTraining Instagram page now, you will find a number of posts with a ‘shopping bag’ icon. These are posts with products that you can purchase.

Hitting any one of these posts will take you to the image with a ‘Tap to view products’ message. You may pick the product you like, and then also customize your purchase based on size, color, etc. and make the purchase. Instagram users outside the US are now displayed a ‘Visit Website’ option instead to make purchases directly from the brand’s website.

From a business perspective, this is a huge step for Instagram as it builds a sustainable business model around its current visual social networking platform. The potential is huge. Instagram could, in theory, open this feature to everyone, and this could make way for influencers to make affiliate commissions for products they refer on the app. Today, Instagram does not have a way to monetize the huge influencer marketing ecosystem, which will change with this new feature.

So what does all this mean for the eCommerce ecosystem at large? Although the feature is in closed-beta right now, we expect the Checkout feature to be available to all businesses in the next six to twelve months. When that does happen, we are likely to see a huge churn in the way eCommerce businesses operate.

Think of the small-time retailer selling fashion accessories online. Today, most of them have a store on eCommerce platforms like Magento or BigCommerce. Customer acquisition is a huge pain given that most buyers head to Amazon online. Given that Search engine is no longer a viable channel for these small time stores, most of them head to social media to attract eyeballs to their stores.

Alternately, most of these small time stores who do not sell products that is a good fit for social media (think auto spare parts) choose to list themselves on Amazon instead. After all, if Amazon outranks your website on Google for every conceivable query, it is a good idea to join them rather than fight them.

But with Instagram Checkout in place, store owners no longer have an incentive to run their own store. They may, as well, list their products on Amazon, Facebook (which already has a Store feature), Instagram and every other customer acquisition channel and monetize directly instead of having to bring customers to their website and then translating them into sales. Selling on Instagram has lesser friction than acquiring traffic from this channel and converting on the site.

That does not mean stores will not have a website presence at all. Instead, most store owners might choose to use websites purely for marketing purposes like content marketing or to build a mailing list. Spending on a store may seem like an unnecessary expense.

That could however not be the case if the various stakeholders in the ecosystem adapt suitably. Should Instagram charge users a monthly fee based on the number of products they have listed, that could make the platform less attractive to sellers.

At the same time, should platforms like BigCommerce move away from a subscription model to a model based purely on processing fee, it increases the likelihood for sellers to continue selling on these web platforms while using Instagram as an alternative source. After all, selling on your own store gives you a level of control that would never be possible over third party platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

But from a buyers’ perspective, Instagram Checkout is more user-friendly. Imagine coming across a new seller you want to buy from. If you were to land on their website, you will be required to go through the entire checkout process like entering your billing and shipping details manually each time. With Instagram, all this is a one-time process. You may buy from new stores with just a click of a button without any of the checkout hassles.

In some ways then, Instagram Checkout could do to eCommerce stores what Reddit did to message boards – why sign up on new boards each time you had a question when you could simply ask the same question on the relevant subreddit?

It will be interesting to see how eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce change their models to take on the new eCommerce platform in town. Will this mean an end to a subscription model? Will that mean a fundamental shift in the way customers buy?

Is The Internet Getting Increasingly Sinister?

Can you call yourself a geek or a techie without having a Facebook or a Google account? Not many teenagers have been able to successfully dodge the array of social games like Farmville forced upon them by their friends on Facebook. No wonder then that our internet liberties are wholly tied today to how these big web companies choose to treat their customers. Google’s recent privacy policy announcement just gave its users a glimpse of what could happen if the company were ever exploit its dominance. Check out this infographic to see why our dependence on Facebook and Google in the internet could be getting us closer and closer to virtual slavery.

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How Many Mothers Are On Facebook? Here Are The Numbers

Is your mom already on Facebook? According to the latest report from eMarketer, there is a 69% possibility if she is an internet user in the United States. The report provides some really interesting numbers that show that the number of online moms who access Facebook will grow from 62% in 2010 to well over 73% in 2013. In absolute terms, this means a rise of nearly 4 million users from 20.6 million to 24.5 million. What do these numbers mean? Click on the arrow on the top of this article to read more.

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Google Plus – User Demographics : Gender, Occupation, Cities & Countries

It has barely been weeks since Google launched their new social network – the Google+. Despite its earlier failures at getting their social strategy right, Google appears to have cracked the social code this time around. The company has already announced the registration of 10 million members – a far cry from the 750 million […]

It has barely been weeks since Google launched their new social network – the Google+. Despite its earlier failures at getting their social strategy right, Google appears to have cracked the social code this time around. The company has already announced the registration of 10 million members – a far cry from the 750 million users that throng Facebook, but still a huge base considering that the service is very much in invite-only mode and is limited primarily among the geeks in the Silicon valley and other major cities.

But 10 million is still a large enough number to make a general picture of what the social network now looks like. Thanks to work from FindPeopleOnPlus, here find the most important data about the demographics of Google Plus.

First, view the Gender Distribution on Google+


Most Accessed Social Network From Mobile Phones

A couple of years back, people “networked” with friends on Facebook and “updated their status” over Twitter. At least, that was the original idea that Twitter was built upon. However, as usage as proliferated, the use-case scenarios have changed too. Today, Facebook is the network people use more for status-updates. Twitter has mostly become a […]

A couple of years back, people “networked” with friends on Facebook and “updated their status” over Twitter. At least, that was the original idea that Twitter was built upon. However, as usage as proliferated, the use-case scenarios have changed too. Today, Facebook is the network people use more for status-updates. Twitter has mostly become a thought-sharing or link-sharing service.

So what does this mean to social network access from mobile phones. As a status update tool, Facebook today finds more usage among the mobile phone population than Twitter. That, along with the fact that Facebook enjoys a user base of over 500 million, has meant that Facebook is used by close to twice the number of mobile phone users as Twitter. Here is the % of mobile phone users accessing the various popular social networks

Facebook : 52%
Twitter : 24%
FourSquare : 5%
MySpace : 2%

Time Spent On Social Networks – Countries With The Heaviest Social Networkers

United States has the largest number of users on Facebook – the world’s largest social network. Yet, the US is not even in the top 10 list when it comes to the list of countries with the heaviest social networkers. A recent study from Comscore has shown that Russia leads the world when it comes […]

United States has the largest number of users on Facebook – the world’s largest social network. Yet, the US is not even in the top 10 list when it comes to the list of countries with the heaviest social networkers. A recent study from Comscore has shown that Russia leads the world when it comes to social network engagement and Yandex, the country’s top social network is the place where most Russians hang out. Only two countries from the English speaking world are in the top 10 and that’s UK and Canada. Speak about the opportunities available for the vernacular networks.

Here are the top 10 countries ranked on the basis of the average number of hours spent per visitor per month.

1. Russia : 9.8
2. Israel : 9.2
3. Turkey : 7.6
4. UK : 7.3
5. Philippines : 6.2
6. Canada : 5.8
7. Indonesia : 5.3
8. Finland : 5.0
9. Spain : 5.0
10. Puerto Rico : 4.9

Worldwide : 4.5

User Demographics Of Location Sharing Services

Over the past one year, location sharing services have proliferated quite a bit – at least in parts of United States and Europe. Services such as FourSquare and Gowalla primarily incentivize people for frequently “checking into” locations by offering them “badges“. While this may appear to be a futile exercise at the outset, companies are […]

Over the past one year, location sharing services have proliferated quite a bit – at least in parts of United States and Europe. Services such as FourSquare and Gowalla primarily incentivize people for frequently “checking into” locations by offering them “badges“. While this may appear to be a futile exercise at the outset, companies are also realizing the impact that such services can have on the businesses. For example, some businesses offer discounts to the ‘Mayor‘ on FourSquare – a badge given to the user who has checked in the highest number of times thus incentivizing people to check in more often. Facebook has recently come up with their own location sharing service that is not only good for users to check out friends in the neighborhood, but also helps in finding deals at businesses in the vicinity.

A recent study by Pew has summarized the user demographics of services like FourSquare and Gowalla that you can find below. All numbers are as percentage of internet users in the United States

Gender
Male : 6%
Female : 3%

Race
White : 3%
Black : 5%
Hispanic : 10%

Age
18-29 : 8%
30-49 : 4%
50-64 : 2%
65+ : 1%

Annual Household Income
< $30,000 : 3%
$30,000 – $49,999 : 6%
$50,000-$74,999 : 6%
$75,000+ : 4%

Education
Less than High School : 5%
High School : 3%
Some college : 4%
College + : 5%

Twitter Engagement Study – How Retweets Happen

An important part of social media marketing is the way marketers exploit the retweeting functionality on Twitter. This is because marketing campaigns over Twitter or any other social medium are pretty much dependent on how viral the message spread and on Twitter, retweets enable users to spread any message to their own followers setting up […]

An important part of social media marketing is the way marketers exploit the retweeting functionality on Twitter. This is because marketing campaigns over Twitter or any other social medium are pretty much dependent on how viral the message spread and on Twitter, retweets enable users to spread any message to their own followers setting up the virality in motion.

Sysomos has conducted a study of retweets the crux of which is presented below. If you are a social media marketer, you can compare your own results with the average numbers presented here to analyze the success of your social engagement.

Number of tweets that are retweeted : 6%

Number of retweets in

the first hour : 92.4%
the second hour : 1.63%
the third hour : 0.94%

Of course your results are bound to be a lot different from the average results since messages from corporate accounts tend to have a lot more retweet potential. Nevertheless, this is a study, the results of which are pretty interesting.

Twitter Promoted Accounts Adds New Revenue Line To Microblogging Service

Twitter’s monetization model has always been a closely scrutinized affair and with the microblogging service yet to show revenues commensurate with its user growth, the company had recently announced a change of guard with COO Dick Costolo taking over as the CEO of Twitter.

Close on the heels of the announcement, Twitter has also launched a new monetizable feature – Promoted Accounts. Based on the long-tested Promoted Trends feature, the new feature will promote the advertisers’ Twitter account to targeted users who may be interested in the advertisers’ offering. Carolyn from Twitter writes on the blog,

“When an advertiser promotes an account, Twitter’s algorithm looks at that account’s followers and determines other accounts that those users tend to follow. If a user follows some of those accounts, but not the advertiser’s account, then Twitter may recommend the advertiser’s Promoted Account to that user. For example, a lot of people who follow several gaming-related accounts also follow @xbox. If someone follows gaming-related accounts, but not @xbox, Twitter may recommend @xbox to that person.”

That sounds pretty weak to me. A promoted account is only shown to users who are already following several related accounts. In that case, wouldn’t the advertiser’s account be offered as a suggestion to the user in any case? Will that mean that the advertiser will be paying for something that they can get done for free anyway? An alternative would be to target users by geography or age group (which the Twitter database does not have at present) and let advertisers reach out to those users who they may not be able to target otherwise.

Having said that, this is still in testing phase and it will be interesting to see how the functionality pans out moving forward.

Most Visited Social Networks In India

It has been quite a while since I wrote about the social networking space in India. Last time I wrote about this was with respect to the December 2008 numbers when Orkut was a clear leader that had been fighting a new kid on the block; Facebook. Back then, Orkut had 12.8 million monthly visits […]

It has been quite a while since I wrote about the social networking space in India. Last time I wrote about this was with respect to the December 2008 numbers when Orkut was a clear leader that had been fighting a new kid on the block; Facebook. Back then, Orkut had 12.8 million monthly visits compared to Facebook’s 4 million. Now a year and a half later, the tide has finally shifted in favor of Facebook. The world’s largest social network has not spared India and has taken over Orkut as the most popular network. According to the Comscore metrics, Facebook now has over 20.8 million monthly visits from India – marginally above Orkut’s 19.8 million.

Here are the top ten social networks in India in terms of uniques in July 2010 according to the Comscore metrics.

1. Facebook : 20.87 million
2. Orkut : 19.87 million
3. BharatStudent : 4.32 million
4. Yahoo Pulse : 3.5 million
5. Twitter : 3.34 million
6. LinkedIn : 3.26 million
7. Zedge : 3.2 million
8. Ibibo : 2.96 million
9. Yahoo Buzz : 1.8 million
10. Shtyle : 1.55 million

An article I wrote back in October 2007 – Will Facebook overtake Orkut in India makes for a good read about a time when Facebook was the 16th most popular site in India.