Instagram is reportedly working to develop a standalone app that would allow users to browse and purchase goods online.
According to a new report from The Verge, citing “two people familiar with the matter,” Instagram’s e-commerce platform will enable users to browse through items for sale from merchants they follow and make purchases from the app.
The app, which is apparently dubbed “IG Shopping,” would help boost the network’s influence in the lucrative e-commerce market. Global sales in the sector are expected to reach $4.5 trillion USD by 2021.
It’s not clear when the shopping app will be rolled out with the app still in the development phase, but it could be canceled before its release.
Instagram introduced an in-app shopping experience in 2016 before rolling it out more widely last year. The system offers purchasing opportunities via tagged items in posted images, and more recently Instagram has been working to make the shopping experience as seamless as possible.
If the app does release, it could significantly expand the firm’s opportunities for revenue. It would also allow Facebook-owned Instagram to acquire more data on people’s buying habits to better target advertising.
With more than 25 million businesses on Instagram and four out of five users following at least one of them, a dedicated app that can compete against the likes of Shopify makes sense and will help Facebook move further into the e-commerce space.