Instagram today is starting a small global test of the Instagram Shop tab, first announced this May, which allows Instagram users to shop from top brands and creators via a new tab in the app's navigation bar with just one tap. Here, users will be able to filter products by categories, as they can today via the existing Shop experience within Instagram Explore.
Though the company in May had also announced plans for a newly designed Instagram Shop with a different layout than what's available today through Explore, those changes aren't being tested at present. Instead, this new global test will direct users to the same “Shop” experience that U.S users been able to reach by tapping the “Shop” button in Explore.
The main difference is that the Shop icon will replace the heart icon (Activity) in Instagram's main navigation.
Thankfully, the Activity section isn't totally gone. For those in the test, the Activity tab can either be accessed at the top right of your Feed (next to the paper airline Direct icon) or by going to your profile and clicking the heart icon from there.
In this version of Instagram Shop accessed from the main navigation bar, users can filter by brands they follow or by category, including things like Beauty, Clothing & Accessories, Home, Jewelry & Watches, and Travel, for example. In addition, not all products showcased in this version of Shop allow users to check out directly from Instagram's universal cart. Instead, some brands have items tagged for shopping, but direct users to their own website to complete the transaction.
If the business is testing Instagram's own Checkout feature, however, a small selling fee is involved.
An upcoming Instagram Shop experience will look a little different. Instagram had said in May it will feature collections from @shop, alongside selections from the user's favorite brands and creators. These shopping options are laid out on the screen in a more intentional manner, with bigger images at the top of the screen, following by a scrollable row of brands, and then personalized content below in a “Suggested For You” section.
This new experience is still expected to arrive later this year, but an exact date has yet to be determined.
Instagram had already been testing today's change with some portion of its U.S. user base. The expanded test will now introduce the change to a small number of users worldwide, including the U.S.
Instagram says it will use the results of this test to determine how it will roll out Shop further down the road. It's possible the company could revisit the idea of replacing Activity with Shop if it didn't increase Shop traffic and conversions.
“This is a small global test of the Instagram Shop tab that we announced in May. We’ll use this test to assess how we decide to roll this out further,” a company spokesperson said.
This is not the first time Instagram has downgraded the Activity tab. Last year, it removed the feature that let users see which posts their friends and coworkers were liking.