On Wednesday, Facebook went down for several hours in which users could not log in or make posts. Coincidently Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, was also down for most users.
Instagram over the years has been a great tool for users, especially small businesses and entrepreneurs, who sell items online. Some users have accounts where they sell shoes, clothing, and other items to interested buyers.
But for how long can sellers keep using Instagram as a place to sell especially when Facebook owns it and sometimes face challenges when it goes down?
There are many advantages to using Instagram of course. The cost to set up is virtually zero. The only cost is using your data to upload pictures. But is the shopping experience helpful for the end user especially when they have to maintain a conversation with the seller rather than just click “Buy”?
Why Not Transition To E-Commerce Websites
Instagram makes it very easy to set up to sell items. All you have to do is upload pictures of whatever you’re selling, state the price in the description and wait for people to send direct messages, email you or use whatever mode of communication you state to buy.
But is that sustainable? Aren’t there other ways you could stand out and make sales?
There are ways you could sell your stuff online. You could use the popular website builder Wix to set up an online store. The only downside, in the beginning, is the time it would take to build your website.
You could also use Storefoundry, a Ghana-based online storefront to sell your items. All you do is register and upload the items you want to be sold.
Or lastly, you could just use a site like Shopify to build a store and sell your items.
Of course, the downside to most of these website builders and online stores is time and money. There’s a small learning curve to some of these websites but it’s easy to take your time and learn. One upside to using these sites is that you’re standing out from other competitors who are also selling the same or similar items on Instagram.
Do You Really Need To Upgrade To An Online Store?
The answer to the above question? It depends.
If you see yourself continuing to manage a small number of items and you don’t have the budget or time to build a website, then Instagram is your best bet.
If you do however plan to grow and increase your customer base and easily track sales, it would be wiser to transition to a better solution than a social media site. Your Instagram page could be a way to advertise and redirect users to your website where they might have a better shopping experience online.
Instagram Is A Safe Bet But For How Long?
Instagram at the moment is more trendy for entrepreneurs and sellers to sell their goods online. It just requires a smartphone with a camera and data and you’re all set.
The hustle of building a website and managing a website could be daunting and cost intensive for some.
But in the long term, putting up an e-commerce storefront through other means other than social media would be better. A website is easier to find for most people (you just google your store name and find your website) and the shopping experience of searching, selecting an item and purchasing it either with their credit card or mobile money makes for a better experience.
Tracking sales as well as items is also better managed with a website than a social media page and keeping up with the various conversations with users who want to know if an item is in stock or not.
Instagram is a good resource to use to sell online but make plans to eventually transition to a better alternative.