Instagram’s new Checkout feature – hit or miss for brands? Instagram will now let US users make purchases without having to leave its app, after picking 23 brands to test its new e-commerce model.

Shoppers can simply tap on ‘Checkout on Instagram’ when it appears and buy an item by running through the purchase steps. Partner brands include Adidas, Dior, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC, and Zara.

Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, told Bloomberg he sees Checkout as the next big business model opportunity after advertising.

And, as Bloomberg pointed out, on Instagram the transition to e-commerce feels organic, as users of the app tend to already be following brands and influencers for inspiration, whether that’s in fashion, food, travel or lifestyle. Buying from them feels like a natural progression.

But there are also some sceptical voices.

The Drum reported an executive at one of Instagram’s partner brands as saying the social media platform’s move into e-commerce is a welcome one, but that it’s late to adopt the model and other apps have more developed offerings, such as China’s WeChat, and Japan’s Line.

Working with apps like WeChat and Line “feels more like a partnership”, the executive added, because the large amount of data harvested by the apps was opened up to brands, whereas Instagram’s venture seems more akin to a retailer-fulfilment role.

“The difference is that with a WeChat or a Line, the brand collects the data,” the executive explained. “It’s great for CRM, it’s great for omnichannel retargeting, and that’s the real value for brands.”

Rachel Tipograph, chief executive officer of MikMak, a social video commerce platform, suggested that Instagram could struggle as it will be operating in a crowded marketplace. Plus, “Instagram shopping features only apply to [direct-to-consumer] brands and do not integrate with a brand’s overall retargeting, CRM ecosystem,” she told The Drum.

“The reality is the majority of e-commerce sales online actually come from a few key third-party e-retailers … If you’re a brand where the majority of your e-commerce sales come from these major third-party e-retailers, the native features within Instagram and any other social platform do not help.”

What is certain is that most of people’s time spent on phones is in an app and that mobile commerce will continue to grow. The holy grail for retail brands, according to Forrester Research, is to get their app onto consumers’ phones. And the secret to a great one, it says, is a combination of a frictionless experience that balances on- and offline shopping, plus seamless transactions.

Sourced from Bloomberg, The Drum, Forrester; additional content by WARC staff