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How to Sell on Instagram Shopping

Learn how to sell on Instagram Shopping with our fully updated in-depth guide.

Instagram. We all know the name and according to recent data, just under ¼ of the world’s internet use it – 1.245 billion people. That represents a huge audience for selling on Instagram no matter where you are in the world. It sounds great to many merchants except for one thing – just how do you sell on Instagram Shopping? Now you’ve asked the question, let’s find out.

What is Instagram Shopping?

Instagram Shopping is all about making your products easy to discover on one of the world’s most popular apps. Brands and retailers can highlight their products easily, making them instantly shoppable as soon as consumers discover they exist. Cool!

With audiences able to interact with pre-made and live content, it’s simply a case of capturing their attention. Provide the ultimate visual and enjoyable shopping experience for users all over the world. Incredibly, almost 50% of users surveyed by the company buy something on Instagram weekly.

How does Instagram Shopping work?

At its heart, Instagram Shopping is a series of features to help sellers do what they do best – sell. Easy for merchants to use and hard for buyers to ignore, it leads to a better customer experience for all. In fact, it’s so popular that 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business account.

Instagram Shop

It all starts with your Instagram Shop, which is your digital storefront on Instagram. This is where buyers interact with your images and videos, hoping to find something to inspire them or, in a lot of cases, purchase.

Brands and retailers have complete control over their shop. Upload your finest content and create collections to make it as simple as possible for users to browse.


A collection is exactly as it sounds – a grouping of products under one banner. You might have a summer or winter collection or perhaps that’s too broad? Think about how your customers like to shop and what they are most interested to see. New arrivals, bestsellers and limited editions are all example of popular Collection titles.

Filter your collections accordingly and make sure to use exciting imagery to capture their interest.

Product Tags

Product Tags are the key to getting your products seen. They allow brands and retailers to experiment with how they are selling on Instagram Shopping. You can highlight items from your product range directly onto images and videos across the app. That means tagging on feed posts, reels and stories. You can even tag product mentions in your bio or in feed copy.

As might be expected, ads can also use product tags. This improves the reach of your posts to many more consumers and can be set up in Ads Manager. Alternatively, existing shoppable posts can also be boosted to improve visibility.

The idea is that users can simply tap on a tag to learn more. But where does that information come from? The answer is from your Product Detail Pages (PDPs).

Product Detail Pages

Now we are really getting into it! Product Detail Pages may sound like a mouthful but they are the most important part of Instagram Shopping for users. As the name suggests, they provide all of the product details that consumers need to learn more about what they are considering buying.

As well as being useful for your own content, Product Detail Pages also pull in content where your product has been tagged by users. This helps drive people to your website to complete their purchases.

Powered by product feed data, a Product Detail Page will only be as good as the data it is drawing from. As such, make sure that your product feed management is up to scratch. That means filling out every field (especially the recommended ones) and then optimising that data for selling on Instagram.

Unsure if your feed is good enough? Book a free product feed audit from Intelligent Reach and have one of our experts go through it for you.

Checkout on Instagram

A more recent feature in social commerce is in-app purchases. This means that users never need to leave the app to complete their checkout. The idea is that is breaks down obstacles to purchase such as not having a credit card to hand or having to write our your address for the billionth time.

With Checkout on Instagram, your PDPs no longer send users to your website. Instead it’s possible for consumers to checkout directly in the app. Amazing, right? It’s currently only available to eligible business accounts and content creators in the US but hopefully it’ll be coming to all other countries soon. When it does, brands and retailers we be able to allow users to set reminders for when products go on sale, as well as advertise countdowns and exclusives.

How to set up Instagram Shopping

As with everything online, every brand or retailer looking to experiment with how to sell on Instagram Shopping will need to do some admin first. Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult, especially if you already have Facebook Business Manager.

  1. Ensure that your business has its own website domain, that the products you are promoting on Instagram are for sale at that web domain, and that you abide by Commerce Eligibility Requirements.
  2. Check that you operate in a supported market. If Instagram in popular in your country, chances are you will be fine. The only exceptions currently are India (where older shops can still operate but no new shops are currently allowed owing to recent legislation), and Ukraine (due to the ongoing war).
  3. Confirm that your Instagram profile is a business account and connect it to your Facebook page.
  4. Set up a Business Manager account in order to set up your shop in Commerce Manager. This will also allow you to run ads, your pages and monitor who has access to operate your pages. You’ll also receive various data and analytics on how ads, posts and pages are performing.
  5. Start the onboarding process by setting up your shop in Commerce Manager or by using the Instagram app. Alternatively, keep things simply by onboarding your product feed using a product feed management tool like Intelligent Reach.
  6. Finalise your shop details in Commerce Manager. This includes checkout method, sales channels (your shop can feature on Facebook too), and adding more products as necessary.
  7. Review everything… And then submit to Instagram for review.

Instagram Ad Types

Alongside setting up Instagram Shopping, you may also wish to advertise on Instagram. These are posts that appear with a ‘Sponsored’ label on the app. They can be found throughout Instagram in many different formats, which we will outline below.

Image Ads

Instagram Image ads for Scoro and The Economist, both featuring the 'Learn More' call-to-action
Source: Karola Karlson

Image ads were the first Instagram format and are probably the advertisement that someone first thinks about when hearing the phrase ‘Instagram ad’. A square image that appears in the feed as a user scrolls, it often features a ‘Shop now’ button which takes anyone who clicks to a product page. Perfect for visually appealing campaigns, make sure the photography is of the highest quality and try to keep text overlays to a minimum.

Video Ads

Instagram video ad for Oreo, with the tagline 'Stay playful'. If clicked, a user would head to the Oreo website.
Source: Reddit

Video Ads are almost identical to Image Ads except for the fact the advert features a video rather than an image. The most popular form of ad for capturing the attention in an eye-catching way, videos are great for showing how a product works or the many different colours available. They can also be used to tell your brand story or highlight unique features of whatever you are selling.

Incredibly, these ads can be as long as 60 minutes(!) but shorter videos are generally more effective. Ads that are 30 seconds to 1 minute in length are perhaps the most common.

Story Ads

Instagram story ad for bombas with 'sponsored' highlighting it is an ad. 'Shop Now' is the call-to-action, advising the user to swipe up to do so.
Source: Instagram Business

Ever seen an ad when browsing through Instagram Stories? Of course you have! These are ads that take up the entire length of your phone screen, and are as such much more immersive to users. With more immersion comes better engagement and more engagement equals improved chances of conversions. And due to the fact 500 million users of Instagram view Stories every day, that’s a large captive audience for your ads.

Of course, like all Stories, users can scroll past your advert quickly. The key to keeping them around is to make them feel like an organic post. Ensure the post is entertaining and don’t go hard on the selling. One way to achieve this is to make use of all the features available to organic Instagram users such as stickers, gifs, filters and text overlays.

Instagram Stories ads don’t have to be videos either. They can be images or carousels (a scrolling array of images) as well. Don’t forget your call-to-action either; this shows at the bottom and might be ‘Shop now’ or ‘Learn more’ button.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ad for MindTitan, which says 'AI can help you...' and features arrows that tell the user to swipe left and right. Learn more is the CTA.
Source: Karola Karlson

As mentioned above, carousels feature a series of images (or videos) that users swipe through. They are easily identifiable by arrow watermarks on the image as well as dots beneath it, highlighting how many images make up the full post. Appearing in the main feed or Instagram Stories, there is a call-to-action on each one. When selling products, each image of the carousel can be a different product leading to the product page of your website. Alternatively, use the carousel as a multi-part story of your brand. With up to ten images to choose from, there’s a lot of potential to capture a user’s attention.

Shopping Ads

An Instagram shopping ad for Feroldis shoes with dots to highlight products and a 'View products' button in the bottom left corner.
Source: Instagram

Instagram Shopping allows those on the platform to view and purchase within the app (if Instagram Checkout is enabled). Rather than to your website, Shopping ads take users to the product description page within the app, from which they can then make their purchase.

With 44% of Instagram users shopping on the app every week, it can be an excellent option to increase conversions.

Collection Ads

An Instagram Collections ad showing a model and a variety of products to click on and discover with a 'Shop Now' CTA.
Source: Instagram Business

Collection ads are a combination of Carousel and Shopping ads. Showing products from within your product catalogue, they rely on top quality product data being fed to the platform.

Collection ads are great for brands and retailers within ecommerce. They allow users to purchase directly from the ad, leading users to your Instagram store. From here, it’s simply reading the product description and then committing to a purchase.

Reel Ads

Instagram Reel ad for Real Canadian Superstore with a Learn More CTA.
Source: Hootsuite

Reel ads are essentially identical to Stories ads, except they appear within Reels rather than Stories. Taking up the full screen of a user’s phone, they can be up to 60 seconds and should immediately engage the viewer. Enticing them to click on the call-to-action will require trial and error but as with Stories ads, it’s best to make them as entertaining as possible.

Explore Ads

The Explore section of a user's Instagram screen.
Source: Instagram

Despite the name, Explore ads to not appear in the Explore section of the Instagram app. Instead, they show after someone has clicked one of the posts in the Explore grid. This can be either a photo or a video.

Because the Explore part of Instagram is constantly changing for users, ordinarily based on trends, it allows adverts to be shown alongside these emerging topics of conversation. Unlike other forms of Instagram advertising, brands and retailers should reuse content for other ads rather than creating specialist content for the Explore part of the platform.

Best practice for Instagram Shopping

Finding success on social commerce platforms can be difficult and Instagram Shopping is no difference. Even so, there is some best practice advice that can be followed to give your brand the best chance of success.

  • Make sure your product catalogue is filled out as much as possible – Write accurate product descriptions, fill out every possible category and include eye-catching images to capture attention. An optimised product feed is vital for selling online and the same is true for selling on Instagram Shopping. Learn more about optimising product feed data with Intelligent Reach.
  • Use only one product catalogue across Facebook and Instagram – To ensure consistency across the Meta platforms, combine more than one product feed into one for selling on Instagram. This also means that any changes on one platform will read across to the other, including the likes of stock inventory updates. Manually updating product data is difficult, which is why an effective product data feed management system is vital.
Example of a carousel ad on Facebook.
Facebook and Instagram should use the same product catalogue to ensure consistency. Source: Digivizer
  • Use four images for each product – Instagram recommends including at least four images for each product to ensure that users can accurately see what they are purchasing. With Instagram being a visual medium, the higher the resolution the better.
  • Improve discoverability with product tags – The most successful businesses on Instagram Shopping use product tags. These make your products clickable directly from image and video posts. Don’t miss out on one of the most effective ways of becoming a successful seller on Instagram; businesses who use product tags see 37% more sales, on average, than businesses that don’t.
  • Tag products across the platform – It isn’t just images and videos that cater to product tags. Brands and retailers can also tag up to 30 products in each Reel, Instagram Live or Story. Make the most of the opportunity!
  • Highlight promotions in the app – Running a 25% off sales on your website? You can highlight this in Instagram. By letting your followers know, you maintain a consistent pricing structure across all of your digital channels and marketplaces.
  • Post community content – When users tag your company in their organic content, you can request to share it on your shop. By engaging in this community management, you can enhance your connections with your userbase and improve brand positivity. By publishing this content, it deepens purchase consideration – users can see exactly how the product looks in real life, offering unfiltered, real-life use cases that can be hard to ignore.


Discovering how to sell on Instagram Shopping requires a bit of trial and error. It is a hugely popular social media platform and getting your products seen can by relevant customers can feel like an uphill battle. Even so, it’s worth it because of the app’s large userbase and the simple fact that social commerce is only going to become more popular. By trying out the various ad options and sticking to best practice, brands and retailers may find it to be a tremendously effective new channel for their ecommerce efforts.

Looking to go beyond Instagram? Read more about selling on TikTok and selling on Pinterest.

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About the writer
Henry Fosdike
Henry is Senior Content Manager at Intelligent Reach. When he's not involved in pushing content experimentation and marketplace management, he can most often be found reading a book, out on a walk or playing games and watching films in VR.

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