How to sell on Instagram

Set up shop and start selling on your posts and stories.

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With an audience of over 1 billion active users per month, Instagram offers a premier – and free – selling opportunity for businesses of all sizes. All you need is an updated catalog and an Instagram business account linked to your Facebook business page.

What can I sell on Instagram?

Instagram users are drawn to colourful, beautiful images that captivate the imagination. You can sell almost anything, but Instagram shopping lends itself particularly well to these types of products:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Accessories such as jewellery and watches
  • Beauty and cosmetic products
  • Food and beverages
  • Home décor
  • Freelance services and online courses
  • Outdoor and sporting goods
  • Electronics
  • Digital products that enhance Instagram itself, such as preset packages or typefaces

Remember, Instagram is owned by Facebook. You don’t want to jeopardise your new business, so don’t sell anything that violates the Facebook community standards or merchant agreement.

How much does it cost to use Instagram?

There’s no cost to set up or maintain your business account and catalogue. Once users select an item, they’re directed to your website for checkout. This means that you control the payments, shipping, delivery and any returns or customer issues directly.

In March of 2019, Checkout on Instagram was launched in beta, featuring over 25 high-end retailers. Checkout on Instagram allows in-app purchases and does require a seller’s fee — although Instagram is very quiet about the amount of the fee and what it covers.

In the future, industry speculation is that Instagram will expand its Checkout on Instagram program for a fee to additional sellers. For now, instead of requiring a seller’s fee, Instagram is monetising the Shop feature by encouraging business accounts to pay to display their shoppable photos in the feeds of users who don’t follow them.

Is selling on Instagram worth it?

If you're serious about selling your products or services, Instagram can boost exposure to potential customers. Success comes from diligent participation. To help determine whether selling on Instagram is worth it for you, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I understand my customers and are they receptive to social media?
  • Have I weighed the time commitment required to plan, photograph, edit and post relevant content?
  • Am I prepared to engage with followers through the comments section, answering questions and following up?
  • Am I willing to take the time to grow my number of organic followers?

How do I start selling on Instagram?

To become an approved seller on Instagram, first set up an Instagram business profile by:

  1. Having an active business page on Facebook and being listed as the administrator.
  2. Setting up an Instagram business profile by tapping Profile, Settings, then Business.
  3. Listing the products that you’re going to post to your feed in one of two ways:
    • Create a listing of featured items using Facebook’s catalog manager.
    • Use an existing catalog from one of your selling platforms, including Shopify, Magento or BigCommerce.

You’ll then submit your account to Instagram for approval. Once approved, complete the set-up in Shopping and start tagging products in your posts and stories. To tag products in your posts:

  1. Select a photo or video and post it.
  2. Tap the product that you want to tag for sale and enter the name to select from the search box, which is linked to your catalogue.
  3. Press Done, then Share. You can tag up to five products per single image or video post.

If you create Instagram Stories, you can post one product sticker to each story. To tag products in Stories:

  1. Choose the story that you want to feature and select a sticker from the sticker tray.
  2. Once you select a product from your catalogue, choose the colour and location of the tag by tapping and moving.

Since Instagram is sourcing the description, price and picture from your synced catalogue, it’s important to keep the information current. If you decide to discount your merchandise, it will be for sale at the new price on Instagram as well as your other selling venues.

How do I price items on Instagram?

To maximise your efforts while still finding a price point that’s enticing to customers, evaluate your overall business, including:

  • Actual product costs, including inventory costs, shipping and storage
  • Operating expenses of the business, including marketing your product
  • Debt-service costs if you’ve borrowed money

Additionally, you can research and flesh out your price with the answers to these questions:

  • What will your customers be willing to pay for your product?
  • Do you have competitors? If so, what do they charge?
  • How much product do you estimate you can sell?

What types of payments does Instagram accept?

Potential customers are currently directed to the seller’s website, so payment is defined by the seller’s existing criteria. But as Instagram moves toward possibly expanding the Checkout on Instagram programme, anticipate the following payment options in dollars, euros and yen:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • PayPal

How to get paid by international buyers

Since Instagram links buyers to your website to complete their purchases, international buyers will make transactions as you’ve defined on your website.

If Instagram opens new markets for your business and you don’t have a system in place, consider opening an online seller account.

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How do I ship items sold on Instagram?

First, decide if you’re going to offer a flat rate, express shipping, overnight convenience or free shipping. Also, communicate your return policy and shipping requirements to your customers before they make their purchase.

If you plan on shipping within Australia only, options are abundant and easily obtained — but be sure to research your bulk business shipping opportunities. Shipping items internationally from Australia can be trickier, not to mention more expensive. Consider what’s required in terms of additional planning and time so you can meet your customers' expectations.

How can I market my products on Instagram?

Instagram can be a marketer’s dream. Once you’re set up, consider these options:

  • Leverage your profile by including your website and letting people know that your scroll features items for sale. Don’t assume people know that you have products available.
  • Post quality pictures and videos that highlight your products.
  • Show your products in action in your Stories.
  • Offer discounts and giveaways.
  • Partner with other Instagram vendors, influencers and marketers.
  • Include a call to action on your posts.

What to watch out for when selling with Instagram

While Instagram is becoming a major force in e-commerce, it has its drawbacks:

  • It’s time-intensive. Instagram can require strong photo and video skills. An understanding of lighting and presets can also be valuable, all of which takes time.
  • Lack of demographic diversity. Instagram is more likely to reach those under 50. If you’re looking for an older audience, you may want to explore elsewhere to reach a larger base.
  • No clickable links. At this time, Instagram doesn’t support clickable links.
  • Potential limited exposure. Without some marketing, you’re relying solely on organic traffic.
  • Ads can be pricey. Though Instagram doesn’t list its cost directly on the site, users have reported paying between $0.50 and $1 per click, and more than $3 in competitive industries.

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