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Never before has life been so personalized as it is in the 21st century. The last few decades have completely changed the way we communicate with one another. Our constant connection with each other has turned us from being social creatures to social media creatures. Catering to one’s personal needs seems to be the business model of the digital age. Markets have gone from the physical into the digital. Although online retail sites have been around for quite some time, their current form is unlike anything we have ever seen before.
From the onset of the internet, it was pretty much set that human interaction would forever change. Email and messaging were among the first of many steps that we as humans would take, slowly moving towards an even more personalised way of communication. The start of the new millennium brought with it the dot-com bubble. Even though the subsequent crash destroyed many online businesses, the 90’s set the tone for what would become the digital 21st century.
Previously social media platforms only served to fulfill our need to communicate faster and in more personalized methods. However, communication is not all that modern social platforms offer today. Apart from just sharing photos, videos, and messages, these platforms have become a hub for entertainment, news, and advertisements. Therefore, it was only a matter of time before social media started its adoption of online retail. Instagram’s shopping feature is one such facet. Given that today one finds oneself quite frequently on social media sites, it moderately reduces the need to keep switching to an online retail store for shopping.
Social media is the communication tool of the 21st century. It has in many ways replaced our traditional methods of communicating. However, communication has become only one of the many uses of social media. Many young entrepreneurs are using this space to start businesses and brands in ways that were not comprehensible before. One can skip many of the levels that are needed to start one’s own business. Initially people would post a picture of their creation with a caption informing their followers of the sale, and the exchange would take place over messages. Instagram was aware that their users were using the platform to further their own businesses. This led Instagram to create the new shopping feature altogether.
While surfing on social media platforms, one often finds items of interest, which one would like to purchase, but to look for that item online may be a hassle. Not only does it address the difficulty of switching between apps, in order to make purchases, it also empowers small and local designers and entrepreneurs to market their products without hosting an online retail site. Having a social presence online also makes the whole experience of curation a little more personalized. Any individual who is passionate about taking their skills and monetising it, can benefit greatly from instagrams shopping feature.
The younger generation of consumers makes up for most of Instagram’s user base, primarily for its visual-oriented interaction and the presence of influencers. To cater to a younger age, Instagram has brought in features to enhance the user experience, and the shopping feature is one such thing. To use this feature, one only has to push their inventory to Facebook, and the shopping option should appear on the Instagram page of the said user within two weeks. This feature dramatically benefits younger business people with little knowledge about online hosting solutions by removing the need to have a website for retail purposes. What was once only a display page for viewers has become an interactive space and a viable marketplace. The shopping feature of social media sites are a boon for young, new business entrepreneurs. It removes many of the obstacles that may plague a young designer or business owner’s dream. One can use their page as a home site for their brand, and use the shopping feature as an alternative to having a separate business portal.
To have successful sales on platforms like Instagram, it is of the essence that the brand or designer has a good social presence. The brand image is directly affected by the fashion communication that takes place on digital platforms. Brands that do well with sales in such platforms usually have distinctive brand messaging and significant social outreach. Social media makes a brand or designer more approachable and personalized. This personalization of the markets is a feature we have never seen. Apart from having excellent online presence, one must also have an in-depth knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and its workings.
Social Media is all about the social outreach of a brand. To use this to a brands best advantage, it is essential to have a very strong communications strategy. Outreach, planning and execution lies at the heart of having a healthy digital presence. Brands are expected to take into consideration many social causes, while addressing trending topics and happenings. We very often see brands being boycotted on the internet, over decisions, or marketing tactics. These are termed social justice movements that have become very common. Given that there are a lot of these social justice movements on digital platforms, it is of the utmost importance that a brand makes well thought out judgements.
Social media, and especially Instagram has had a big hand to play in the creation of a new kind of ambassadors, namely ‘Influencers’. Influencers have been pivotal in pushing brands and fashion trends online. Influencers are slowly shadowing the concept of having ‘Brand Ambassadors’. Although brand ambassadors are still relevant, they have had to take a back seat in the realm of personalised and digital social media. Influencers are made by the people who follow them, and hence it becomes a personal relation with the individual, making the entire process a little more democratic, and inclined towards the choices of masses.
Although it is a reasonably new element of online shopping, Instagram Shopping can grab many avenues of retail. In today’s age of constant connections, it is not surprising that brands are selling their products on their social media pages. It makes for easy judgment, as one now has the social presence of the brand at their fingertips, and raising disputes over the internet has never been easier. But, on the other hand, no brand wants its online image tarnished, as that is the new form of trust-building that has taken the world by storm, leading to better customer support. We are yet to see what social media shopping can show us, but it is fair to say that the online retail space is in a state of change. The ability to purchase an item from the page of an influencer is in its rudimentary form and we are yet to see if purchases can be made via posts shared by influencers. The future is yet to unfold in this regard, and the entire process of shopping on instagram can be made smoother. However, there is a lot of confidence about Instagram’s growth. We are entering into the age of personalized care and support from brands that were once almost unapproachable.
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