SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc's Instagram is trialing a feature that lets U.S. users shop from the photo-sharing app by using a "checkout" option on items tagged for sale, the company said on Tuesday (Mar 19).
A new "checkout" button for instant purchasing launched in a beta version of the app in the US with a limited number of businesses, according to the popular image-centric messaging service.
"We're introducing Checkout on Instagram," the Silicon Valley based division of Facebook said in an online post.
"When you find a product you love, you can now buy it without leaving the app."
Tapping the checkout button will allow shoppers to select options such as size or colour and then pay for items without leaving the Instagram app.
Users can pay via Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover or PayPal. Previously, Instagram allowed brands to link to their respective websites for users to make purchases.
The move is in line with Facebook's plan to monetise higher-growth units like Instagram, as its centerpiece News Feed product struggles to generate fresh interest.
Instagram has partnered with more than 20 brands including Adidas, H&M, Kylie Cosmetics and Michael Kors on the shopping feature, easing into territory more familiar to retail giants like Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc.
Information entered for an initial purchase will be stored for future use, according to Instagram.
It remained to be seen how people would feel trusting information such as credit card details to a service owned by Facebook, which has been hit with waves of criticism for its handling of personal data.
"Facebook's track record on privacy is the bigger issue (that) may negatively affect the launch of in-app purchases," said Gabriella Santaniello, founder of retail research firm A line Partners. "I would expect there to be some reticence when inputting your credit card information upon checkout."
The world's largest social network is under intense pressure to improve its handling of data following a number of controversies related to user privacy on its platform.
Instagram, which did not specify any financial details of its partnerships, said it would introduce a selling fee to help fund transaction-related expenses.
In a similar move last year, image-search platform Pinterest Inc introduced a feature called "Product Pins," to provide prices and links to retailers' checkout pages to make purchases.
Instagram has more than 130 million users tapping to reveal product tags in shopping posts every month, up from 90 million in September, it said.
Facebook has plans to evolve Instagram and Messenger into robust e-commerce platforms where users can click on ads and buy products, said Ivan Feinseth, an analyst with Tigress Financial Partners.