Social Shopping: What Is It and How Is It Changing Social Media?


Social shopping has become part of a number of the major social media apps, where users can make purchases on these networks without having to visit a website.

While the premise for these changes is based on convenience, it changes the social media experience.

Here’s a look at the social shopping trend and how it is changing the social networking apps we use…

Social media apps have become more business savvy, allowing people and companies to sell their products to users directly through their platforms.

This provides businesses with more sales avenues. For social media users, it makes shopping online hassle-free and better suited to mobile devices.

Related: People Are Shopping More On Social Media During the Pandemic

Some social media apps haven’t fully leaned into the trend by providing the full checkout experience, but instead offer users new ways to interact with and explore products.

So, which social media apps have shopping options and how does it affect these apps?

Let’s take a look.

Social shopping features often vary in apps depending on regional rollout. However, major apps which have introduced social shopping features include Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest.


Snapchat shopping has a focus on AR experiences. While you cannot buy products directly within the app, you can get a showroom feel by virtually trying things on.

Brands use AR lenses to showcase their products to the viewer. From there, they’ll be one click away from reaching the merchant’s store. Snapchat’s camera can also help you scan products and to find and buy them online.

Instagram Shopping

Instagram shopping allows users to browse through catalogs and make purchases. Shopping has become integral to the Instagram experience, finding prioritization in the app’s UI. The social media app tested replacing the Activity icon at the bottom of the screen with the Shopping icon.

Luckily, users who are not interested in the feature have been able to revert back to the older version that does not feature the Shopping icon in the Settings tab.

With Instagram’s shopping features, when scrolling through a business’s feed, you can click on the items you like, add them to your cart, and checkout within minutes. In addition to this, Instagram users can buy products in posts and Stories, and even Reels.


Facebook has both its more informal platform Marketplace, as well as Facebook Shops, which lets people create or integrate their stores on Facebook for direct sales with customers.

Related: Facebook Launches a Dedicated Shopping Section on Mobile

This platform has behind-the-scenes features for merchants to make the shopping experience seamless. For customers, it offers support with chatbots and direct lines of communication to the Shops.


Shopping on TikTok has been available in China, with plans to roll out this feature in other parts of the world as well with a Buy Now button.

TikTok users can also sell their own merchandise on the app.


Image Gallery (5 Images)

Pinterest users can buy the products in their pinned images with the Shop the Look feature. You can essentially curate your favorite things and then shop them all.

Even if the image shows an ideal, the app makes recommendations for similar products that you can compare it to.

Image Gallery (4 Images)

Direct shopping on social media networks has changed the way people use and experience these apps and spaces. The primary challenges are that people turn to social media for inspiration before buying products, rather than e-commerce channels.

Similar to online purchases, there is also an element of privacy concerns, where checkout details are saved for quicker repeat purchases. But with companies like Facebook frequently in the headlines for data leaks, more sensitive data is on the line due to social shopping.

In addition, there is a concern that these platforms are prioritizing businesses over regular users. Businesses have yet another way to entice customers to make purchases, with more ads to view in a space that is becoming increasingly commercialized. It has, however, proved to be especially effective for helping small businesses to grow online.

That said, those who are shopping through social media platforms are praising the efficiency of these mobile-first experiences and enjoying the ability to capitalize on buying into trends with immediacy. As people make use of these apps, the algorithm will tailor your feed and provide recommendations based on your taste, making the shopping experience a personally curated one.

These channels for shopping are also more interactive, since people can engage with the product by sharing likes and comments, for example, and then sending businesses direct messages when they need support or service.

Social media shopping continues to grow, making the major social networks a place for both inspiration and shopping with ease.

As this functionality continues to develop, users are becoming more accustomed to this extension of social media experiences.


Report: People Are Shopping More On Social Media During the Pandemic

The pandemic sort of ushered in this new era where almost everything is now done virtually. Shopping is no exception.

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