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Instagram expands Shopping to more businesses, including creators selling their merch

Instagram announced today it's expanding access to Instagram Shopping to more businesses, including creators who want to sell their own merchandise. To enable this expansion, the company introduced new “Commerce Eligibility Requirements” that offer a set of guidelines that interested businesses must adhere to, in order to qualify for Instagram selling.

For example, the guidelines specify the Instagram account must represent the store or website where the products are being sold from — in other words, product listing must be available for direct purchase on the seller's own website or through either Facebook or Instagram Checkout. The account can't serve as a front for some sort of affiliate network selling, like the Amazon affiliate program.

The Instagram account must also demonstrate “trustworthiness” by having an authentic, established presence and a sufficient follower base.

Other rules focus on best practices, like not displaying misleading pricing and availability information, and having clearly stated refund and return policies.

Sellers must also be in a supported market and comply with all other Instagram policies, like its Terms of Use and Community Guidelines.

These requirements will go into effect on July 9 in all the markets where Instagram Shopping is supported.

After signing up for Instagram Shopping, businesses will be notified as soon as they're approved so they can begin tagging products. If the business is not approved, they'll receive a clear reason why they don't meet the existing requirements, so they can take the necessary steps for approval.

Instagram will update its onboarding flow for new businesses, while existing businesses on Instagram Shopping will receive an in-app notification in the weeks ahead with instructions about how to comply with the new policies.

The company envisions the expansion of the Shopping service to enable a wider number of small businesses and even individual creators to sell on its platform. This could include musicians selling their merchandise, food bloggers selling their own cookware or any other creator that has at least one eligible product to sell.

The expansion to more types of sellers and creators come at a time when Facebook's rival, Google, has been working to diversify the revenue streams for its own set of creators on YouTube. Today, select YouTube accounts can sell their merch in a shelf directly below their video. YouTube takes a small commission on these sales.

Similarly, Instagram Shopping serves as a new revenue stream for the Facebook-owned app as it involves selling fees. By opening up Shopping to the wider “creator” industry, Instagram is poised to become a necessary part of their monetization strategy, while also giving users more places to shop.

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