Meta isn’t done pulling back some of its shopping features. Instagram has warned users that live shopping will shut down on March 16th. From that day on, shops can’t tag products during livestreams — you’ll have to wait until afterwards (or rely on less-than-elegant links) to buy must-have items. The social network explained the move as a way to “help [it] focus” on core features.
The move comes right as Instagram is removing the shopping tab from the home screen, and months after Facebook wound down Live Shopping and pointed stores towards Reels. Shopping is still part of these social media apps in posts, Reels and Stories, but Meta has increasingly taken a back-to-basics approach. Live shopping first reached Instagram in 2020, right as many people were forced to shop online during the pandemic.
The decision is not surprising. Meta is looking for ways to cut costs as a tough economy and an expensive metaverse pivot affect its bottom line, and it’s particularly eager to slash initiatives that perform poorly. As Gizmodo explains, that might include Instagram’s live shopping. Social-based shopping was only expected to represent five percent of US e-commerce in 2022, according to Insider Intelligence. If that’s true, Meta isn’t earning much from purchases during live broadcasts.
Meta isn’t alone in struggling with shopping features. TikTok was set to bring live shopping to North America late last year, but only using outsourced technology. The Financial Times sources claimed last summer that TikTok was scaling back its plans between a poor UK uptake and a mass exodus of employees. Simply speaking, there may not be as much of an audience for social shopping as tech giants expect.
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