How to Set up and Start Selling on Instagram 

February 7, 2022 in Ecommerce Tips, International VAT, VAT

As the original influencer platform, Instagram holds promise for modern entrepreneurs and business owners alike. With over 1 billion active monthly users and over 200 million of them visiting business accounts daily, the social media platform has become a popular player in the ecommerce world.  

Instagram Shopping has made it even easier for brands to connect their products with customers, creating a compelling marketplace for new and old businesses. Sellers can now tag their products in posts, transforming engagement into purchases. Keen to start using Instagram for business? Here’s how to get started… 

How to set up Instagram Shopping 

To begin you’ll need to ensure you have the basic settings enabled to access Instagram Shopping, these are: 

  • You must have a business account. If you have a personal account you use for business, you can easily convert this by going to Settings > Account then tap Switch to Professional Account > Business 
  • Your products must align with Instagram’s commerce policies and abide by them while selling on their platform 
  • Your Instagram profile must relate to a Facebook product catalogue in Facebook Business Manager 

Once done you can start selling your products in several ways through Instagram.  

The different ways to sell on Instagram 

Product tagging and swipe up links within Stories 

Within the Stories feature (which over 500 million people use daily) you will be able to tag specific products so that viewers can select these and be taken directly to your Instagram Shopping area.  

Swipe up links are a way for you to send viewers straight to your website landing page to convert viewers to shoppers. This feature, however, is only available to businesses on Instagram with over 10,000 followers!  

Profile ‘Shop’ tab  

Instagram Shopping also allows you to include a shop tab so that you can collect your products within a neat area and so that your business profile is easily navigable for visitors.  

Shoppable feed posts  

Much like Stories, you will be able to tag multiple products in feed posts so that your audience can select them and view your entire product catalogue within the app.  

Instagram checkout 

If you choose to enable this feature, customers can then checkout from your online store through Instagram. For Shopify users you can use the Facebook channel integration to checkout via Instagram and Facebook, giving your customers a simpler and faster route to checkout.  

Top tips for Instagram Shopping 

Create high-quality, engaging content 

Instagram is all about quality visuals, and for brands this is even more integral. Substandard quality images or videos of your products will only make your brand appear unprofessional, but that doesn’t mean you need professional equipment to do the job.  

Most recent iPhones or Androids have excellent camera quality which would suffice when taking product pictures. Just ensure you’re capturing your products in decent lighting, with a professional backdrop and you’re sure to have Instagram quality images to sell your goods.  

Show your products in use 

Particularly for clothing brands, not including an image of your products in use, or modeled by a person can make the fit and sizing ambiguous. This could not only lead to fewer sales, but in the event of a sale it could lead to poor reviews and unhappy customers. 

To create demonstrable content for your products you could create an Instagram Reel to showcase its features. As a relatively new tool, the algorithm rewards users that make use of the reel function so this could be a fantastic opportunity for your brand to show off. 

Utilise user-generated content 

If your customers are finding your brand on Instagram and buying from you there, chances are they are also sharing their great experiences with brands like yours on the platform too! User-generated content is a fantastic (and low-hassle) means of displaying your goods, so don’t be afraid to reach out to past customers and ask for reviews or pictures of them enjoying your products.  

Make use of Instagram ads 

To drive more traffic to your Instagram Shopping area and equally your website, you can try Instagram advertising. You can ‘boost’ specific posts on your profile in feed or in the Stories function, to reach a larger and more targeted audience.  

You can set boundaries for how much you want to spend on these ads, but it’s important to consider your profit margins in the process. Instagram also offers a wide range of ad layouts and options like Explore ads, slideshows, carousels and even videos, so make sure you find exactly the right format to suit your product offerings.  

Don’t forget hashtags!  

Either to keep track of customer mentions, user-generated content or just building brand awareness, using the right hashtags for your brand and industry is essential to maximise exposure on Instagram. Hashtags enable your shoppable products to be discoverable on the platform and expose your content to more potential customers.  

If you combine hashtags with Instagram Shopping your posts can appear to users with a visible shopping bag icon in the corner which tells shoppers that this product is available to buy! Plus, if you’re stuck for hashtags to use, check out your competitors with a similar offering to see what hashtags are yielding the most engagement or you can even use an online tool like Hopper to find out which are best for your business.  

Stay aware of your compliance requirements 

Selling via your own website cross-border creates compliance obligations your business will have to consider. At we’ve helped hundreds of businesses handle VAT when selling internationally through an ecommerce website and are always happy to help.  

When thinking about your businesses VAT compliance liabilities think about:  

  • Your supply chain: you may trigger a VAT registration obligation at certain points of your supply chain. It is essential you are aware of these so you can review your processes and register your online store for VAT if necessary.  
  • VAT rates: when selling internationally through a website, you will need to charge the rate of VAT where your customer is based. Across the EU VAT rates can vary between 17-27%, so altering your pricing to accommodate this will be important.  
  • OSS/IOSS: The OSS and IOSS schemes have been created to simplify cross-border VAT for sellers in the EU. Running your own website can be complex at times, consider whether OSS or IOSS may make your VAT obligations more manageable. 

Our client managers are always on hand to answer your questions to help you sell through Instagram Shopping, or any other platform, compliantly. Contact our team to discuss your VAT needs today and stay selling confidently! 

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At our international experts are always happy to help you navigate international VAT and are always at hand to answer your questions. If you’re unsure of your international VAT obligations, or would like to get VAT registered, fill out the form below and a member of the team will be in touch.

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