More people in the world own a mobile than any other digital media device. Despite this, it remains the platform which consumers are most hesitant to use to make e-commerce purchases, with a conversion rate from add-to-basket to sale of only 3.05 per cent in Q4 2015 in the United Kingdom (Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly, April 2016).

In efforts to encourage consumers to use mobile devices as their e-commerce platform of choice, Instagram has introduced ‘shoppable photo tags’, which make it easier for brands to promote and sell products through the photos they post on the app. Consumers will be able to purchase an item from a brand’s post in a few clicks, only being transferred out of the app and directly to the website after they make the decision to purchase the item.

Currently only available to iOS users in the United States, the 20 retailers participating in the trial run (including kate spade new york, Abercrombie & Fitch and Michael Kors) now have the ability to tag products in their photos. Hidden behind a ‘Tap to view products’ button, product details such as price and available sizes and colours will be on display without having to leave Instagram and search independently for the item.

The introduction of ‘shoppable photo tags’ marks the latest way social media platforms are attempting to streamline, and profit from, shopping on mobile devices, following Facebook’s Instant Articles for products and Pinterest’s Buyable Pins. Instagram plan to monetise the new feature by allowing brands to pay for their shoppable photos to be displayed on the newsfeed of users who do not follow them.

But, according to the State of Retail 2015 report, no matter how simple online shopping gets, 85 per cent of consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores. The significance of the in-store experience is evident in the trend of online-only retailers opening a bricks and mortar store, such as Amazon opening a bookstore in Seattle in 2015 and cycle wear retailer Rapha, which after opening its first physical store in 2011 now has shops in four countries.

Although, retailers must continue to innovate and understand what consumers seek from an in-store experience. In particular, the integration of technology into the shopping experience. Such as smart fitting rooms or virtual reality, which 57 per cent of British consumers would like to see, or the introduction of more touchscreen technology, which almost two-thirds of British consumers would like to see introduced (Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly, April 2016).

Regardless of the platform or nature of the shopping experience, brands and retailers alike must first and foremost ensure they understand the best methods of engagement to not only gain consumer attention, but keep it.