[Guide] How to Use Instagram Checkout and Product Tags to Sell More

Learn everything about the Instagram's shopping options.

instagram checkout

For many business owners, Instagram is one of the main shopping channels to promote their products and increase conversion rates.

If you are one of them, you are in the right place!

For the past year, Instagram introduced major shopping features that provide options for businesses to sell more, even in times of COVID-19.

Especially the recent expansion of Shops and also the introduction of new Facebook Shop features as an addition to the e-commerce efforts of the platform.

In this post, we will cover all these features. 

We will include tips and tricks on getting the best value from the most business-friendly social media platform.

FYI: You can embed Instagram widget automatically with a social media aggregator and alive your website with fresh content.


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Shopping Options on Instagram

Here are the current shopping options that Instagram provides:

  • Instagram shopping tags – tagging products with shopping links synced with external e-commerce platforms.
  • Instagram Checkout for brands – Instagram’s native shopping checkout option (checkout feature)
  • Instagram Checkout for creators – option for creators to tag products of brands who have the checkout option enabled
  • Shopping in ‘Explore’ tab – just navigate to the Discover tab in the Instagram app, and you will find a ‘Shop’ tab where there are listed posts that are shoppable.
  • Shopping in Stories – this option is similar to the product tagging options in the Instagram posts.
  • Product stickers –  create a direct route for Instagram users to buy your products directly from your stories
  • IGTV Shopping – option for creators to tag shoppable products directly in their IGTV videos

Why your business should enable shopping on Instagram?

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, shopping on Instagram has come as more than a natural progression of how people interact with brands and their products published on Instagram.

Luckily, we have seen tons of new Instagram features developed to help small businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’. 

In parallel, we have many users who now enjoy a better shopping experience and improved engagement with their favorite local brands.

People ask questions about the product, save the products for later consideration, or if possible, they are willing to purchase it, from shoppable posts within the app.

And the stats are here to prove this theory:

More than 130 million Instagrammers are tapping to reveal product tags in shopping posts each month.

According to internal data that Instagram released in February 2019,

Additionally, by tagging your posts with products, Instagram will expand its reach in the ‘Explore’ tab, where you will be able to get to more people who are not actually your followers. And of course, have the chance to sell more.

200 million Instagram accounts browse the Explore tab every day.

Instagram Internal Data, April 2018

By understanding how people discover and buy products, Instagram shopping is definitely the shopping channel that your business must consider in order to reach more shoppers and, therefore sell more.

And there are already brands getting real results, such as Barbour:

Since we started to use the feature, our sales from Instagram have increased by 42% and traffic to our website from Instagram is up 98%.

Laura Dover, Global Digital Communication Manager at Barbour

Instagram Shopping – Product Tags

activate shopping on instagram

Instagram shopping was introduced and rolled out in 2018 as an integration between Instagram and the major online shopping platforms, such as Shopify and BigCommerce.

By doing this, Instagram enabled businesses to sync their product catalogs and have the option to tag their Instagram posts with the products they are promoting.

Here are the official steps on how to set up your profile for Instagram shopping:

Step 1: Eligible for Instagram shopping

Before you start to set up Instagram shopping on your feed, make sure you are eligible for it:

setup instagram shopping

Once you check all the above criteria, you will need to connect your Instagram with the Facebook catalog.

Step 2: Connect with Facebook Catalog Manager

You can manually do this by enabling and creating the product catalog in Facebook’s Catalog Manager.

Step 3: Sign Up for Instagram Shopping

Go to your Instagram profile page, tap ‘Settings’ > tap ‘Business’ and choose ‘Shopping on Instagram.’ Next, follow the provided steps to submit your profile for review.

Once you finish this, you will need to wait for a couple of days for your profile to get approval from the review team.

For all additional information, check out the official setup guide.

Instagram Checkout for Brands

On 9th March 2019, Instagram launched its huge step toward becoming one of the most powerful networks for online shopping.

The new feature, Checkout, was rolled out to hand-picked brands, and people immediately started adopting it and buying directly via the Instagram mobile app.

Checkout makes it quick and secure for people to buy the products they discover on Instagram. Checkout enhances the shopping experience by making the purchase simple, convenient and secure. People no longer have to navigate to the browser when they want to buy.

And the best, with Checkout buyers, will only need to enter their name, email, billing information, and shipping address the first time they check out.

Furthermore, the Checkout system will send information to the buyer about the shipment and delivery in the Instagram app.

To understand how Checkout on Instagram works, just check the steps below.

How does Instagram Checkout work?

It is a very simple flow, only a few steps.

People will see a small shopping icon as an overlay on the brands’ Instagram photos that indicate that the products are available for purchase.

Here is a summary of the checkout steps:

  1. Tap on the shopping icon
  2. Click on the link of the product that appears in the photo
  3. In the product info screen, tap ‘Checkout on Instagram’
  4. Choose your shipping option and tap ‘Place order
instagram checkout process

That’s it.

What is the difference between Shopping and Checkout?

The main difference is that Instagram processes the entire checkout. You do not need a shopping platform, user management or payment processor.

On the other hand, to set up the Shopping tags of your products on Instagram posts, you will need to connect your Facebook store or Shopify with Instagram. This means you already need to have the online shop set up and running to provide user logins, credit card processing, and payments.

And the benefits that the direct Instagram checkout provides are really big!

So far, reducing the number of steps to the actual purchase and support for technical processing of the payments are the highlights, leaving extra precious time for brands to focus on what matters to their products and customers. Everything from the product description to the payment information is on the shopping product page.

What are the Instagram Checkout benefits for businesses?

Well, the benefits are obvious, right?

  • Option to purchase in just 2-3 taps without leaving the Instagram app
  • No need to maintain and optimize a mobile-first webshop (great for small businesses)
  • No checkout form problems with typing credit card info errors and similar issues usually cause cart abandonment on mobile.
  • No need to provide a new step for users to log in that again solves the problem of typos and login frustration leading to cart abandonment on mobile.

How to apply for Instagram Checkout

At this moment, Checkout is still in beta, but as Instagram rolls it out more widely, it is planned to provide this option for businesses to be able to integrate directly or work with partners, including Shopify, BigCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, CommerceHub, and more in the future.

As for the payment processing, it is enabled via a partnership with Paypal.

If you want to apply for checkout, check the required information below that you need to provide and fill in this application form:

  • What is the username of your Instagram business profile?
  • What is your work e-mail address?
  • If you are using shopping on Instagram today, how is your product catalog connected?
    • Through Facebook, Business Manager directly
    • Through an Agency
    • Through an eComm Platform
    • Through FB Shops
  • Does a third party help fulfill your online orders?
    • No, we own our distribution centers and stores.
    • Yes, we work with 3PLs or other OMS or logistics providers
  • Do you have a US Federal Tax ID? [Y/N]
  • Do you use any of the e-commerce platform providers or system integrators listed below?
    • BigCommerce
    • ChannelAdvisor
    • CommerceHub
    • Demandware
    • IBM
    • Lengow
    • Magento
    • OpenCartOraclePrestaShop
    • SAP
    • Shopify
    • WooCommerce
    • Proprietary implementation / in-house only
    • Other

To see some of the brands that already have the Checkout option and actually test how the Checkout flow works on Instagram, check out the list below:

Aimee SongAlissa AshleyAlondra OrtizAlyssa CoscarelliAnnabelle FleurAshley StrongBlair EadieBrittany XavierCamila CoelhoCandace ParkerChriselle LimCole Carrigan, and similar.

Please note that currently, Checkout is only available in the US.

Instagram Checkout for creators

As mentioned above, Instagram has introduced the checkout option to the creators’ and not just the brands’ profiles.

This means that influencers or creators who sponsor or promote products can sell them via their posts and Instagram stories.

Just imagine the possibility of shopping the look that your favorite influencer wears/promotes on Instagram.

This makes the selling experience more direct, without the need for the creators to point out where their followers can buy the products.

This option is actually available to selected creators and will be rolled out in the coming months to more profiles.

If you are based in the US, you can see how some of the creators that have the checkout option available use it, and you can probably buy from their feeds:

Aimee SongAlissa AshleyAlondra OrtizAlyssa CoscarelliAnnabelle FleurAshley StrongBlair EadieBrittany XavierCamila CoelhoCandace ParkerChriselle LimCole Carrigan, and similar.

Instagram shopping analytics

The shopping stats are very important for the brands and creators to understand how their post metrics affect the actual sales results.

Instagram shopping insights are available in the Insights section of your Instagram profile. You can find how your posts performed in the’ Content’ tab.

But if you are a brand and you hire influencers to sponsor your posts, having access to their insights of that post is limited or just left to the willingness of the influencers to share the insights.

The problem with this is that the insights might be manipulated, and brands can end up paying for engagement metrics that the influencer did not actually achieve.

In addition, insights tools are more and more required because influencer marketing is projected to spend between 5 to 10 billion dollars in 2020.

influencer marketing global spend

This solution gap presents a real challenge for both creators and brands.

With the changes coming, Instagram is obviously taping this problem and has introduced a solution.

That is why they build the option for shared insights.

To have this option, brands need to be part of the Checkout beta batch of businesses that have access to tag products that can be bought within the Instagram app.

Once the creators tag the products in their posts, together with that product brand will receive shared insights about the product purchases.

This means that brands and influencers using the ‘paid partnership’ tag are able to track and share statistics about the partnered post.

Currently, the stats that brands can view about the posts published by influencers who tagged their brands as sponsored posts, can be viewed in the ‘Branded Content’ tab in their Facebook Page Insights.

Instagram branded content insights

To learn more about how to approve creators for Branded content, check this tutorial.

Instagram is aware that transparency will only reinforce the relationships among all stakeholders in the right direction. After all, the ultimate goal should be creating conditions for better shopping experience for the customers, fans or followers.

Embed your Instagram shop on your website

All the above options are the shopping capabilities that are actually enabled by Instagram in their own native app.

But, you can still use your Instagram activity and content and expand their reach beyond Instagram.

customize instagram shop

With tools such as EmbedFeed you are able to display your Instagram feed on your website and sync all future posts in real- time.

This means that you can reuse the content you have meticulously assembled and pushed on Instagram and display it on your website with just one line of code.

Additionally, with the EmbedFeed tool, you can tag the posts on your website with checkout links or buttons that will help you create a shoppable stream in just a few clicks.

shoppable feed

To try this out, just sign up for an account and have your Instagram shop on your website in literally seconds.

FYI: You can embed Instagram widget automatically with a social media aggregator and alive your website with fresh content.


Embed Instagram widget on your website automatically!

Generate and display Instagram content from your feed, mentions, or hashtags directly to your website.

Start 7-day free trial

CEO of EmbedSocial 

Nikola Bojkov is the CEO of EmbedSocial, an entrepreneur who turns problems into products. With over a decade of hands-on experience with social media APIs, he guides EmbedSocial in its role as a technical partner for both SMEs and large agencies, maximizing the impact of their user-generated content. EmbedSocial has offices in Skopje, Tokyo and Lisbon with over 250,000 users.