Instagram isn’t only a place to share perfectly framed photos of sunsets and selfies – some business owners have realized that the site works for pushing product, too. Today, e-commerce startup Soldsie, which previously focused only on businesses selling to their Facebook Page visitors, will now bring similar functionality to Facebook-owned Instagram.
This will put Soldsie in closer competition with services like Chirpify, which has offered in-stream commerce on Instagram for over a year, as well as with newer arrivals like Hashbag, a site which The Daily Dot hilariously described as the “mutant love child of Instagram and Craigslist.”
More broadly speaking, Instagram’s ability to be a marketing vehicle for businesses and brands has led to the growth of others, like Oracle-acquired Vitrue and Salesforce-acquired Buddy Media for example, which help companies manage their social media presence and run campaigns. And more recently, Instagram began experimenting with brand advertisements of its own.
But Soldsie’s system is designed primarily for small to medium-sized merchants running daily and weekly sales, as opposed to individuals selling their own items, or those running some sort of marketing campaign.
“It’s kind of like creating an e-commerce site, but putting it through Facebook and Instagram,” explains Soldsie co-founder Chris Bennett.
He notes that Soldsie had been quietly testing Instagram support with a small number of merchants (under a dozen) since September, ahead of rolling it out more publicly today. And as with Soldsie’s Facebook support, the process for selling on Instagram is simple for merchants and shoppers alike: a seller posts a photo of an item for sale and instructs users to comment “sold” along with their email address.
Buyers using Soldsie on Facebook complete their transactions on the site, but Instagram shoppers are treated a little differently. After commenting, buyers are automatically sent an invoice for the item in question via email, though the company is also offering an option that would direct shoppers to a form hosted by Soldsie instead.
The company is also now working with its merchant customers more closely, says Bennett, providing them support that includes advice on how to better run their sales, communicate with their customer base, and more. The pricing for either service – Facebook or Instagram – is not set in stone, Bennett adds, saying that it’s now a mix of a minimum of sales or a percentage of sales.
During the beta period, the first business to test the Instagram selling feature saw 72 orders in its first day, and another business is seeing $1,000 per day in sales on average, says Bennett. “People are beginning to build their following counts on Instagram, and it’s great to see that the businesses we work with are seeing a great return on investment for building up their following base,” he says.
However, Soldsie’s beta tests have been too small to draw larger conclusions from at this point. What we do know is that social media can drive purchases – see, for example, the value of a Pinterest pin – but whether or not it will ever drive a significant number of in-stream purchases, so to speak, is something that’s still being proven.
Earlier this summer, Soldsie reported over $10 million in transactions processed on its platform, and a reach of over 1,000 merchants. Bennett says the company is growing and has now seen $15 million in transactions as of today.
[Image credits: Shutterstock; Instagram merchant Prepobsessed]