Key takeaways

  • Major social media sites to launch ‘buy’ button.
  • Development means increase in mobile commerce options for the ‘always on’ customer.
  • Report predicts ‘buy’ button to be a major area of accelerated growth.

The race to embrace mobile commerce has reached a significant step in its natural evolution this week, with two of the leading social media sites announcing they are to launch in-app purchase options for users.

Image-sharing sites Instagram and Pinterest are each set to roll out ‘buy’ buttons alongside selected product images on their site. This follows in the steps of Twitter, which launched the functionality (although to a limited degree) last year.  Outside of social media, Google’s chief business officer also confirmed recently that the inclusion of a ‘buy’ button in the search engine’s shopping ads was “imminent”.

Instagram and, to a greater extent Pinterest, align with retail since they are more closely linked to the idea of aspirational product browsing. Users can file pictures on each site which are then viewed, liked and shared by their networks. Pinterest in particular is anecdotally famous for being the go-to site for a female demographic to create an ideas board for home improvement.

Instagram defined its m-commerce focus as covering three areas:

  • Action buttons – options to be provided include ‘Shop now’, ‘Install now’ and ‘Sign up’.
  • Targeting – Using the same tools as its parent company Facebook, advertisers will be able to target consumers based on demographic and interests.
  • Availability for all businesses – advertising will be available to all sizes of business.BuyButtons-instagram-image2

Pinterest has teamed up with major retailers in the US to initially launch 2 million products via its site. Unlike Instagram, which offers links that take the user to external websites or applications, Pinterest’s sales would occur in-app.

Targeting customers with ease of purchase

Social media offers a huge potential marketplace for retailers. Instagram attracts 300 million users and Pinterest over 72 million each month. Instagram adverts, its site claims, have a 2.9 times higher ad recall rate than Nielson Brand Ratings standards for online advertising.

Social media has traditionally been about brand advocacy, operating more as a marketing channel. Now, it is becoming an overt retail channel and, with the option of increased targeting and data gathering, one that offers a feedback loop into understanding the preferences and habits of your advocates.

The rise of commerce in social media is, of course, a valuable avenue for businesses to connect with the ‘always on’ customer.

The ‘buy’ button phenomenon has been flagged up as the internet’s next area of accelerated growth (after video) in Mary Meeker’s respected 2015 Internet Trends report.

Consumers increasingly expect an experience that makes them feel connected to the brand and its broader community, that offers the ability to access information about products easily, allows them to use a channel that suits them, and facilitates ease of purchase.

PwC’s 2014 Connected & Curated report found that ‘ease and speed in ordering’ was the second highest rated reason for purchasing online, after cost. With more and more browsing being done on mobile devices, a one-click purchase option is a clear winner.



Richard Blundell

Richard Blundell is a business specialist in PwC Australia’s Digital Services team.

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