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How to sell on Instagram
Set up shop and start selling on your posts and stories.
With an audience of over a billion active monthly, Instagram offers a free, premier selling opportunity for businesses of all sizes. All you need is an updated catalog and an Instagram business account linked to your Facebook business page.
What can I sell on Instagram?
Instagram users are drawn to colorful, beautiful images that captivate the imagination. If you’re just learning how to sell things on Instagram, the good news is that you can peddle almost anything — though the app lends itself particularly well to these types of products:
- Accessories, like jewelry and watches
- Beauty and cosmetic products
- Clothing, especially T-shirts
- Digital products that enhance Instagram, such as preset packages or typefaces
- Food and beverages
- Freelance services and online courses
- Home décor
- Outdoor and sporting goods
Remember, Instagram is owned by Facebook. You don’t want to jeopardize your new business, so don’t sell anything that violates the Facebook community standards or merchant agreement.
How much does it cost to use Instagram?
There’s no cost to set up or maintain your business account and catalog. Once users select an item, they’re directed to your website for checkout. This means that you control the payments, shipping, delivery and any returns or customer issues directly.
Instead of requiring a seller’s fee, Instagram monetizes the Shop feature. For more exposure, businesses can pay to display their shoppable photos in users feeds, even those who don’t follow them.
Is selling on Instagram worth it?
If you’re serious about selling your products or services, Instagram can boost exposure to potential customers. Success comes from diligent participation. Consider the following points to help determine whether selling on Instagram is worth it for you.
- Understand your customers and if they’re receptive to social media.
- Weigh the time commitment required to plan, photograph, edit and post relevant content.
- Prepare to engage with followers through the comments section, answering questions and following up.
- Take the time to grow organic followers.
How do I start selling on Instagram?
To become an approved seller on Instagram, you need an active business page on Facebook. After gaining access as an administrator, here’s how to start selling on Instagram:
- Log into your account.
- Tap Profile, Settings, then Business.
- List the products that you’re going to post to your feed, either through Facebook’s catalog manager or by using an e-commerce marketplace like Shopify, Magento or BigCommerce.
- Wait for your Shopping tab to be approved by Instagram — this can take up to two weeks.
- Go to Shopping and start tagging products in your posts and stories.
How to tag products in Instagram posts and stories
After you’ve uploaded a story, here’s how to tag it before posting:
- Choose the product sticker from the sticker tray.
- Select the product you want to feature from your catalog.
- Move the sticker into position.
- Share the story.
Since Instagram is sourcing the description, price and picture from your synced catalog, keep the information current. If you decide to discount your merchandise, it’s for sale at the new price on Instagram as well as your other selling venues.
What is Instagram Checkout?
Instagram Checkout is a way for customers to buy products directly on Instagram, without leaving the app. Basically, users can select a tagged product, add it to their cart by clicking the shopping bag symbol, and complete the checkout process in a matter of seconds.
However, while Checkout was launched for beta testing in 2019, it still isn’t available to all retailers. Industry speculation is that it will be rolled out to most business accounts eventually, and Instagram will charge a fee for every transaction.
How to sell on Instagram for free
Selling on Instagram for free as long as you don’t purchase advertisements. It doesn’t cost anything to open an Instagram business account or funnel users through to your online storefront, so upfront investment is low. However, purchasing ads can increase traffic flow to your page and boost sales.
How to sell on Instagram with Shopify and other online stores
Many e-commerce platforms, like BigCommerce and Shopify, let you sell through multiple sales channels — including Instagram. Once your online store is set up, use the integrated tools to decide which sales channels, like Instagram, Amazon and eBay, you want your items to appear on.
To sell on Instagram with Shopify, you’ll need a Facebook business account set up first. Then, add Instagram as a sales channel through your Shopify account, log in to your Facebook account to authenticate it, and Instagram reviews your request. Once approved, customers can follow a link from your Instagram to make a purchase through your online storefront.
Compare e-commerce platforms
If you want to sell on more than just Instagram, an e-commerce platform can help you build your own store and sell through multiple channels.
How to sell on Instagram without a website
If you don’t have a website, you can sell on Instagram by contacting customers through the comments. For instance, write “comment “SOLD” to buy this dress” in a post. Then respond to users with a direct message. Ask for their PayPal information, and send them an invoice to facilitate the transaction. You could also use Soldsie, a tool that automatically emails invoices to users after they comment on a post.
But with its shopping tool, businesses are more likely to go with this more professional model. If you don’t have a website, consider looking into a service like Shopify that streamlines setting up a website.
How do I price items on Instagram?
To maximize your efforts while still finding a price point that’s enticing to customers, evaluate your overall business, including:
- Actual product costs, including inventory costs, shipping and storage.
- Operating expenses of the business, including marketing your product.
- Debt-service costs if you’ve borrowed money.
Additionally, you can research and flesh out your price if you understand:
- What your customers are willing to pay for your product.
- Competition and what they charge.
- How much product you can sell.
What types of payments does Instagram accept?
Potential customers are directed to the seller’s website, so payment is defined by the seller’s existing criteria. But as Instagram moves toward possibly expanding the Checkout on Instagram program, anticipate the following payment options in USD, euros and yen:
- American Express
- Discover (US only)
How to sell on Instagram with PayPal
There are two ways you can sell on Instagram with PayPal: By sending your customer a PayPal.Me link, or by linking your Instagram business account to a third party seller, and channeling payments into your PayPal account from there.
With a PayPal.Me link, copy and paste it into a direct message to your customer on Instagram. They click it and enter the payment amount — the money is deposited directly into your PayPal account.
Using a third party seller like Selfy or Shopify is a similar approach, where you’ll post a link to your online storefront and customers click through to purchase. In that case, you’ll connect your PayPal account to the third party seller account to receive the money.
How to get paid by international buyers
Since Instagram links buyers to your website to complete purchases, international buyers make transactions as you’ve defined on your website.
If Instagram opens new markets for your business and you don’t have a system in place, consider opening an online seller account.
How do I ship items sold on Instagram?
First, decide if you’re going to offer a flat rate, express shipping, overnight convenience or free shipping. Also, communicate your return policy and shipping requirements to your customers before they make their purchase.
If you plan on shipping within the US only, you have plenty of options. Research your bulk business shipping opportunities ro find out what’s closest and most convenient to you. Shipping items internationally from the US can be trickier, not to mention more expensive. Consider what’s required in terms of additional planning and time so you can meet your customer’s expectations.
How can I market my products on Instagram?
Instagram can be a marketer’s dream. Once you’re set up, consider these options:
- Leverage your profile by including your website and letting people know that your scroll features items for sale. Don’t assume people know that you have products available.
- Post quality pictures and videos that highlight your products.
- Show your products in action in your Stories.
- Offer discounts and giveaways.
- Partner with other Instagram vendors, influencers and marketers.
- Include a call to action on your posts.
What to watch out for when selling with Instagram
While Instagram is becoming a major force in e-commerce, it has its drawbacks:
- It’s time-intensive. Instagram can require strong photo and video skills. An understanding of lighting and presets can also be valuable, all of which takes time.
- Lack of demographic diversity. Instagram is more likely to reach those under 50. If you’re looking for an older audience, you may want to explore elsewhere to reach a larger base.
- No clickable links. At this time, Instagram doesn’t support clickable links.
- Potential limited exposure. Without some marketing, you’re relying solely on organic traffic.
- Ads can be pricey. Though Instagram doesn’t list its cost directly on the site, users have reported paying between $0.50 and $1 per click, and up to $3 in more competitive industries.
Frequently asked questions
Who answers customer questions?
You do. Customers can engage you by leaving questions in your comments section. Also, the product tag links to your website or product catalog, so customers may leave questions there as well.
How do I get more followers on Instagram?
Here are a few ideas that could prove useful:
- Post relevant pictures and videos that are well-produced and visually appealing.
- Use descriptive captions with calls to action.
- Add hashtags and engage on relevant hashtag streams.
- Respond to people leaving comments.
- Cross market with your other social sites like Facebook and Snapchat.
- Be persistent with your techniques.
Do I have to pay taxes on my Instagram sales?
It’s always best to check with your local state tax authority to determine your obligations and responsibilities for both domestic and international sales.
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