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Instagram Commerce

"The next generation of mobile commerce" may be "as simple as transforming an Instagram feed into a … revolving storefront," reports Jenna Wortham in The New York Times (3/9/14). Instagram isn’t designed for e-commerce, but retailer Beverly Hames, owner of Fox & Fawn, a a two-shop boutique in Brooklyn, finds it to be very effective. About 18 months ago, "she began posting items on Instagram as an experiment … Now, sales deriving from those postings make up 20 to 40 percent of the store’s daily revenue."

Most items, says Beverly, sell within minutes, even though Instagram is not "designed to handle transactions." To reserve an item, customers "leave a comment below the item to reserve it … Then they call in with their credit card information to buy it." Beverly says she decided to test Instagram’s e-commerce potential after noticing that the most "popular pictures" were of "clothes or food." Her Instagram plan "extends her store’s retail footprint and draws in customers during inclement weather or on weekdays, when most people" are at work.

Connie Wang of Refinery29, a fashion site, believes "the intimacy of Instagram" explains why "users are willing to put up with the inconveniences of the platform." "It’s so much more personal," she says. "On Instagram, it feels like a discovery because you aren’t there to shop — but if something catches your eye and it’s available, you’re more likely to buy it." Beverly Hames sees a limit to Instagram’s retail potential, however. "I’m sure this bubble will burst somehow," she says. "Either it will get oversaturated by other companies … or (Instagram) will start charging."