American multinational technology company Facebook-owned Instagram is adding new shopping tools, like letting people search for products using an image, as it expands eCommerce offerings across its family of apps.
When users click on the images they see on Instagram, Facebook will direct them to similar-looking products for sale. For instance, a user could click on a floral dress on the social media network and find similar outfits being sold in Instagram Shops, which are the stores the app hosts from third-party businesses, according to a company spokesperson.
Later this year, Instagram will start testing this feature in the US. In the future, Instagram plans to enable users to take a photo from their phone to start a visual search, similar to technology already offered by Pinterest, Google and Snap.
“A lot of shopping discovery begins with visual discovery, right, so you see something that you think is awesome. Maybe you want to see other products that are like that, or you want to figure out how to get that product. And this is the type of problem that AI can really help out with,” Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg explained.
Instagram will also make it easier for some companies to provide augmented reality-powered try-on, so people can see how products such as makeup and shoes look on their actual bodies and faces, something its competitor Snapchat brought more mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The option will be open to companies that already use ModiFace or PerfectCorp technology to offer such experiences elsewhere on the internet. Facebook said it’s testing the capability in Instagram Shops and in Facebook ads with a handful of brands and plans to expand access later this summer.
Facebook has prioritized making eCommerce tools to ensure that the small businesses that had to shut down their brick-and-mortar shops during the pandemic build a habit of selling their goods online, especially on Facebook properties.
Major retailers have increasingly started to setting up digital stores, creating virtual try-on shopping experiences or using augmented-reality advertising to reach younger consumers on apps like Facebook, Pinterest, ByteDance’s TikTok and Snap. The company also announced it was adding virtual shops to WhatsApp and Facebook Marketplace.