Instagram now enables users to shop when browsing Stories or the Explore features on the platform. Launching on Monday (September 17), these will roll out globally throughout the few next weeks.
When browsing the Explore section, which suggests images and topics to follow based on the user’s behavior on the platform, users will see a new curated selection called “Shopping”. This selection will showcase shoppable product posts curated for the user based on which brands they are currently following, or have recently interacted with.
Directly shopping from content has so far only been available through the main feed. However, with 400 million users viewing Stories on a daily basis, users across 46 countries can now also buy from the feature via shoppable tags.
Research from Instagram shows that over 90m users already tap shoppable posts every month, so introducing the new feature is not only a way to strengthen the bond with its community, but a commercially-savvy move by the company.
For the launch, e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce have already announced that they are both enabling their partners to connect their products to the new Stories feature.
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Uniqlo has launched Uniqlo IQ, a digital concierge service that is powered by Google Assistant and machine learning technology.
The assistant, which is currently only available in Japan, helps customers find style inspiration and recommendations by searching by occasion, items featured in magazines, and even by colour based on the user’s daily horoscope. Products are ranked hourly, meaning results vary at every interaction. Once the consumer is ready to purchase, it can do so online or receive directions to the closest Uniqlo store where their product of choice is in stock.
The Google Assistant integration allows the user to say “Uniqlo IQ” or “Uniqlo FAQ” into the Google app to begin the interaction. According to the Japanese company, this is the first time a brand is using Google Assistant to create a brand-specific solution.
“As retail moves deeper into the digital realm, shopping needs to be not just portable and perpetual but personal as well,” says Rei Inamoto, founding partner of Inamoto & Co, the agency responsible for the project’s brand and service design. “There has been a lot of talk about AI in the last few years but most use cases have been toys, not tools. Available through chat, search and even voice activation, this iteration of Uniqlo IQ is the foundation of how Uniqlo will provide customer service on a personal level not just reactively but also proactively.”
The service was initially tested in the US via Facebook Messenger, before a soft launch in October 2017, when it was available to 2,000 select users in Japan. It is now available through the Uniqlo app, Asian social media platform LINE, and Google Assistant.
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