Social Apps: The New Way of Shopping

Online shopping has been on the rise since sites like Amazon and eBay took over the world, but are sites like Instagram and Depop becoming the new way of shopping? According to Adobe Analytics, the US ecommerce sales saw a 55% increase in June 2020 compared to June 2019. Due to the unprecedented times experienced thus far in 2020, the year has brought a lot of changes and new realities for everyone. As a result of convenience, and now a need to be socially distant, some social networks have tapped into and enhanced their platforms to promote shopping right as we scroll through our daily feeds.


Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly users and is trying to become users’ own personal shopping library. In March, the platform enabled in-app checkouts, meaning users will no longer be redirected when clicking on a tagged item for purchase. According to Ashley Yuki, product management lead at Instagram, instead of having to go through this clunky mobile web flow and checking out, you can now check out directly on Instagram. Instagram Shop is now a tab that allows users to click on and find items for sale based on the accounts they follow, categories they are interested in, and targeted advertisements they linger on. Users can now browse through thousands of featured products that can either be bought directly through instagram or by simply clicking a link to the website that directs you to the products page. 

The next stage in providing in-app purchases is integrating a secure payment method. According to the company, “Facebook Pay will provide a seamless, secure way to shop and make donations to causes you care about across our apps. It features an extra layer of security with the ability to add a unique PIN or device biometrics, such as Touch or Face ID. We also provide Purchase Protection on eligible products that you buy using checkout.”  The company states that this drastic shift to e-commerce is in direct response to the pandemic, and aims to inspire users to buy from smaller businesses who have been hit particularly hard during this time. 


This London startup offers users an easy way to buy and sell an array of items — from vintage clothing and limited-edition sneakers or sunglasses to books and concert tickets. Mainly focusing on reselling, the app inspires sustainability and the freedom to sell anything from anywhere. “Our mission is to redefine the fashion industry in the same way that Spotify did with music, or Airbnb did with travel accommodation,” says the CEO.

Throughout its growth, the company has kept its focus on targeting Millennial and Gen Z shoppers; the company states that around 90% of its active users are under the age of 26. Many celebrities and influencers have taken to Depop to sell clothes to fans and followers. A recent report from ThredUp, another second-hand clothes sales platform, estimated that the total resale market is expected to more than double in value to $51 billion from $24 billion in the next five years, accounting for 10% of the retail market.  As of 2019, the app became available in the US, which the company projects to be its biggest market. 

This year, 2020, has been a remote year: remote life, remote work, remote shopping. With the changing times, social apps are no longer a choice, but the basis of all online engagement. Depop is making room for bedroom entrepreneurs, making it easier to start a business without leaving your house; and people already go to Instagram to spot the latest trend and connect with people and brands, so will they now go to Instagram when they are in the market for a new pair of shoes?