Imagine you’re on Instagram and you see a photo from Target of a new Fall blazer you just have to have. Well, now you can -- and you don’t even have to switch apps.
Today, the visual analytics and marketing platform Curalate officially launched Like2Buy, a tool that allows brands to make their Instagram images "shoppable."
It's a bit more complex than it sounds: Instagram users that click on a company's profile will see a link to a Like2Buy website. From there, a gallery of clickable photos will take shoppers directly to the ecommerce website.
While Like2Buy is intended to make an Internet user’s shopping experience more seamless, it also helps companies increase user engagement and make a stronger connection between social media and sales, which has been notably difficult for retailers.
Making the service part of Instagram will help give it a wider reach. According to Forrester, Instagram is the most engaging social network, with 58 times the engagement of Facebook and 120 times the engagement of Twitter. Target called Like2Buy “an Insta-game changer.”
Although the self-described “part store, magazine, and wishlist” Fancy created a similar product last year for the Google Glass interface, Curalate CEO Apu Gupta doesn’t view that as competition. “Fancy is a visual and social network that we can extend to at some point,” he said.
In addition to Nordstrom and Target, Curalate has more than 450 clients, which include retailers such as Charlotte Russe, Gap and Neiman Marcus. These companies have the option to participate with Like2Buy on their Instagram pages immediately, while non-clients can participate in the wider rollout which Gupta expects will happen within the next month. A free trial is also available to retailers at large, and those who choose to pay for Like2Buy as a standalone service will pay $1,000 per month. Clients will receive a discount, in accordance with the other Curalate services they use.
In the near future, Curalate aims to charge companies based on how many clicks their Like2Buy links generate. “It’s a flat-rate [price] model,” said Gupta, “but over the next month or so we’ll introduce a meter-rate model. Our thinking today is that we will most likely price by click.”
Pricing the service by click rather than by sales allows Curalate to keep the focus where it wants it -- on traffic. Gupta knows that for some of Curalate’s brands, like Campbell Soup, Internet sales aren’t likely. Focusing on traffic allows Like2Buy to appeal to a wider range of brands. “Like2Buy is more than just ecommerce. You can use it to read the article or get the recipe. It’s not just about commerce, it’s also about content. We want to drive traffic of Instagram pages to the brand,” Gupta said.
Women's and teen apparel retailer Charlotte Russe is one of Curalate’s subscribers, and the brand has been using Like2Buy since Tuesday. It debuted the service in an Instagram post featuring a black and white skater dress that went out to the company’s nearly 400,000 followers. “We’re definitely excited,” said Kristen Strickler, the social media and public relations manager for Charlotte Russe. “One of the things that every major brand faces is that customers want to shop their Instagram feed. There haven’t been too many developments to make that possible, so Like2Buy is a great solution.”
Though Like2Buy has only been active for 48 hours, Strickler says the reaction has been very positive. “I’ve seen quite a few comments in the feed about the Like2Buy feature, comments like, ‘love it!’ People are really excited about this,” she said.