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Could Instagram’s new shop feature be a practical saviour for small businesses?

Instagram has found a way to facilitate our shopping sprees (not that we needed it!), just in time for the festive season. The arrival of the new shopping feature has placed a large emphasis on smaller businesses which require all of our attention in the current climate. The new shopping tab has provided the perfect procrastination tool on the most addictive app, however, there is a newfound benefit to our constant swiping as Instagram’s new feature equates itself with Etsy, placing smaller businesses in the spotlight. 

The Shop feature was recently highlighted on Instagram, replacing the ‘notifications’ section and initially confusing us all. However, upon further research, I have actually found the shopping feature incredibly inspiring and accessible with a Browse Shops section that prioritises all of the stores you already follow. 

Instagram has introduced this feature in time for the festive season which is so crucial currently as users are reminded of the importance of shopping locally this holiday season. As Amazon and other large franchises monopolised on the first lockdown, it is even more important to turn to local businesses this winter.

In association with Instagram’s recent update, there has been a large movement on social media promoting small businesses and independent stores (‘Buy local, Buy handmade, Buy self-employed’) which has been really inspiring and heart-warming, especially when the creative industry has been confronted with numerous and constant challenges this year.

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I firmly believe that the Shop feature on Instagram will inspire a surge of purchases from local businesses as everyone will be looking for fun, niche and most importantly, unique gifts; all qualities that encompass the beauty of independent stores. The Shop feature also allows you to start searching for your Christmas gifts early, acting as a constant reminder, as well as a source of inspiration for all of your festive needs. Whilst scrolling over the last few days, I have found so many vintage stores, as well as cute online gift shops that house the perfect gifts for stocking fillers and Christmas care packages. 

One of my favourite sections of the feature is Editors’ Picks which cumulates various items under headings such as ‘Holiday Beauty Roundup’ and ‘Gifts Under £25’, making the entire process straightforward and accessible. There should be no more excuses for lack of inspiration or tardiness this year as Instagram has even incorporated a ‘checkout’ method using Commerce Manager and other online platforms to secure your payment 

To spark some inspiration for your Christmas lists this year, some of my favourite small businesses include: 

@crunchedinburgh – A Platter Box Delivery Service in Edinburgh, specialising in Grazing Tables, perfect for your Christmas potluck dinners. 

@sourcherrycouk – a Manchester based jewellery company selling chic and personalised jewellery; perfect gift ideas for friends and family

@by.chrissie – a slow fashion company that specialises in handmade clothing. This shop is London based and has some gorgeous Y2K tops, perfect for Christmas dinner outfits. 

@domno.vintage – a sustainable store that offers worldwide shipping and specialises in a variety of vintage sweatshirts which are ideal for the winter months.

The Shop feature is perfect new feature as it offers you a huge variety of stores to choose from, changing your explore page daily, allowing you to follow your favourite brands and stay up to date with their newest releases. There is a certain unique excitement that comes from finding the perfect gift, allowing you to spread the festive cheer to your friends and family, as well as small business owners – it sounds like a win-win situation to me!

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