Over the last year two distinct groups of fashion apps have emerged, and both use the element of discovery.

Boasting over 200 million worldwide users, Instagram seems to have become everyone’s favourite social media channel. Its visual nature has made it especially popular in the fashion industry, with brands using the photo-sharing app to share beautiful lifestyle images, showcase celebrity endorsers and promote new product lines and campaigns.

Though it is such a successful brand communication tool, Instagram creates challenges similar to those faced by traditional offline advertising (such as billboards): A tool to scale just how many of the ‘likes’ and impressions gathered through each post lead to conversions has yet to be conceived. In fact, we can’t even measure exact impressions beyond ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. And, most importantly, posts can’t be directly linked to items being sold in online stores. This makes it especially difficult for brands to gather data, let alone generate sales.

But the fact remains: as Rosanna Falconer, Head of Digital at Matthew Williamson, highlighted at Decoded Fashion London:

Instagram’s progressed beyond just this communication tool and this beautiful visual, that actually, under a pair of shoes, people are saying ‘What size should I get? Do you have this size? Where can I buy it?’ It’s a really exciting proposition for Instagram.

– Rosanna Falconer, Head of Digital, Matthew Williamson

A few startups have now tried to seize this opportunity and developed solutions around the issue: they have made it easier for customers to purchase product over Instagram. Solutions include:

LikeToKnow.It: Brands or retailers using this can link to LikeToKnow.It in the caption of their fotos. Users who then ‘like’ the photo will be sent an email with information about where to buy the pieces featured in the image. This works together with the affiliate network RewardStyle. However, it only works if customers signed up on the LikeToKnow.It website first. Vogue has opted for solution (read more about their now-shoppable Instagram here).

Soldsie: Soldsie can be used to sell products via Instagram and Facebook. When users comment ‘sold’ and a hashtag with their size under a post, they receive an invoice for the item in question via email. Again, a prerequisite for successful shopping is that the customer has linked their Instagram account with Soldsie prior to commenting on the post. Read more about it here.

Chirpify: This ‘marketing conversion platform’ works through the use of so-called #actiontags – hashtags that proclaim a certain action. This can be used on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If a customer has not linked their social media account with Chirpify prior to posting an action tag, they will receive a message with instructions for how to do just that. After accounts have been liked, the linked purchase card will be charged each time an action tag is used.

Hashbag: Saw something on Instagram and want to find it on sale? This service lets you type in hashtags associated with the item and aims to consequently help you find what you’re looking for – but on sale. This is ideal for those looking for pre-loved items. More about it here.

We can’t help but wonder, are these solutions intuitive and fast enough to support impulsive Instagram browsing? We look forward to finding out what other solutions pop up. In the mean time, Instagram are expanding their US-launched in-feed advertising internationally.

Note: I wrote this piece for Decoded Fashion in June.

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About Anna Abrell

Postgraduate at the London College of Fashion, studying MA Strategic Fashion Marketing.


Social Media, Tech


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