Social image sharing app Instagram has expand its shoppable tags feature to businesses in eight countries internationally, opening up a powerful new channel for e-commerce retailers to drive traffic to their Shopify storefronts.

Following its initial launch in the US in 2016, the Shoppable Tags is now available to marketers in the UK, Canada, Brazil, Germany, France, Spain and Australia – allowing retailers to promote and sell products via the images they share, with the platform now a powerful channel for reaching 18 – 24-year-olds with high intent to purchase.

The feature allows brands to drive Instagram users to their online stores by tagging posts with products hidden behind a “tap to view” button; providing users with product details, pricing and further images when tapping the button.

A ‘Shop Now’ button can then be selected directing users to the product page on the retailers’ online store, making the purchase seamlessly through the app itself.

The geographic expansion is another step forward in Instagram’s bid to monetise its user base and comes following a huge increase in promotional posts last year where posts, identified by the #ad or #sponsored hashtag, reached over 1.5 million users worldwide.

The initiative was first trialled in the US with brands including Warby Parker and JCrew using the tags feature; Now, this is accessible to a wider audience around the world, with Marks & Spencer being the first brand in the UK to use the tool.

“People come to Instagram everyday to discover and buy products from their favourite businesses,“ said Instagram’s head of business Jim Squires on the feature; “We want to be that seamless experience; whether it’s a local artisan, florist or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier.”

On the potential for turning Instagram posts into sales, Aaron Brooks, CEO and co-founder of influencer marketing agency Vamp said that retailers have gained a “clear gateway” for traffic from the app while consumers are in the “moment of engagement”.

Meanwhile, Brooks added that Shoppable Tags opens up further doors for engaging with influencers on the channel, potentially employing the feature on the accounts of those with an engaged and loyal following.

The Shopify trend in affiliate

Instagram’s Shoppable Tags feature is an extension by multi-channel commerce platform Shopify, that merchants can use to design, set up and manage their online stores across multiple channels. The platform simplicity and user-friendly interface has made it accessible for affiliates to set up an account and start selling to channels efficiently and without any setbacks.

From an affiliate perspective, the use of ‘shoppable’ Instagram posts could offer a new channel to drive more traffic and revenue in the affiliate channel.

Shopify has been making a number of movements recently in allowing its online sellers to drive more traffic and revenue to their channels, including brand partnerships and working closely with Google on integrating AI automation and accelerating online payments via Google Pay.