In short: Following a three-month testing period, Instagram is officially launching the Shopping in Stories service in 46 countries. The company says it wants to present e-commerce as more than an errand as it designed the new platform to both entertain and inspire, so while making money remains its ultimate goal, the exact cut it's taking from sellers remains unclear and presumably varies across partners. Simultaneously with shopping support for Stories, Facebook's subsidiary is introducing a new Shopping channel to the Explore tab which will provide users with a personalized feed of items they might be interested in based on the brands they follow and their past purchases.
Background: Instagram Stories surpassed 400 million daily active users several months back, with the Snapchat-inspired platform hence being one of the largest online communities on the planet, attracting marketers from a wide variety of industries. As a third of most popular Stories is created by brands, Instagram is hoping shopping support will provide its partners with a lucrative e-commerce platform while simultaneously allowing them to make their content more interactive. Buying products through Instagram Stories is as simple as tapping on image tags, which is what some 90 million accounts are doing on a daily basis, according to the company's internal metrics, though it's presently unclear what percentage of that user base actually goes through with making purchases.
Impact: Shopping support provides Instagram with another potentially massive revenue stream while simultaneously placing more pressure on Snapchat that has been experimenting with similar solutions in the past but continues to struggle with monetizing its service. While there are no guarantees Shopping in Stories will be a success, the sheer number of users on the social media network puts Instagram in a promising position and one that Facebook is likely to repeatedly highlight in the coming quarters as its core network faces a slowdown in revenue growth.