November 6, 2019

When Joe’s Jeans dropped its latest collection on Monday, its second collaboration with influencer Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, both collaborators watched in real-time as the sales rolled in.

Bernstein and the Joe’s Jeans team texted back and forth throughout the day, updating each other on sales numbers. Customers weren’t buying the new high-rise skinny jeans on the Joe’s Jeans website, but instead through Instagram’s new Checkout feature. And anticipation for the collaboration’s release was built up through Instagram’s drop reminder feature. Joe’s Jeans is one of the first brands to make use of both. 

As Google and other platforms have sought to combine product discovery and commerce, Instagram may be in the best position to bring the two worlds together. Brands like Joe’s Jeans and Soulcycle are taking advantage of the opportunity to drop products through Instagram, and the platform’s ease of use and popularity among influencers is a key part of the success they’ve seen so far.

Brands can grant influencers and collaborators access to the store, making their products shoppable from the partner’s account in addition to their own. Ultimately, the goal for brands using Instagram Checkout is bringing customers’ point of sale as close as possible to where they’re already browsing for discovery and making influencer partnerships even more lucrative on a direct level.

“They have it set up so it’s super seamless for the brand,” said Jennifer Stender Hawkins, svp of marketing and innovation at Joe’s Jeans. “We can grab anything from our e-commerce catalog and just flip a switch to put it on Instagram. We can make it so our collaborators can access the [product] catalog, too, granting access to them so they can integrate Checkout into their Instagram.”

This means that customers can buy the jeans through either Joe’s Jeans’ Instagram account or through Bernstein’s.

Joe’s Jeans’ first collaboration with Bernstein, which was not sold through Instagram, launched in March, and 88% of the customers visiting the site on the day it launched were first-time visitors. That day was also Joe’s Jeans’ best-ever single day for sales. While Stender Hawkins said it was too early to report revenue figures for the second collaboration — the sale is still ongoing, thanks to Joe’s Jeans intentionally upping inventory size to avoid instant sellouts — the new collection has already outpaced the previous one.

“It’s still early, but the initial thing I can see is that social is driving a ton of the traffic,” Stender Hawkins said. “The customer is also mostly 25 -to 34 years old, which is younger than our normal customer. Danielle brings a fresh design perspective, as well as a new audience for us.”

Stender Hawkins also cited the introduction of Amazon Pay into its Instagram Checkout as a driver of success. Other brands using Instagram Checkout, like Abercrombie & Fitch, have integrated other payment options like Klarna into Checkout, as well. Stender Hawkins said Shopify, which handles all of the brand’s e-commerce, made the integration of Instagram Checkout extremely simple. It came together in just a few weeks, she said.

Joe’s Jeans is dropping another collection through Instagram on Thursday, this time featuring men’s jeans designed in collaboration with NFL player Julian Edelman. The brand is using these collaborations, along with a new SoHo flagship store in NYC opened in January, to attempt a comeback after nearly going bankrupt in 2015.

Bernstein also employed the other part of Instagram’s Checkout feature: drop reminders. Last week, Bernstein began posting the countdown to the drop on her Instagram Stories, where followers could opt-in to get notified when the drop goes live. At the time of a drop, for those who have opted-in, confetti drops from top of their phone screen and they are presented with a link to purchase.

The drop feature, launched in September, has quickly attained popularity from brands that frequently release new products in smaller batches to stay top-of-mind for customers.

“The product drop feature really speaks to our merchandising strategy,” said Caroline Gogolak, vp of retail at SoulCycle, which was part of the first wave of brands to test drop reminders through Instagram Checkout in September. “We are a very fast-moving business. We develop, launch and sell quickly. New stuff is coming out all the time. We leverage our instructors through Instagram for a lot of our products, so Instagram Checkout makes sense for us.”

Instagram’s status as the dominant social platform for fashion has a strong argument behind it. Seventy-two percent of Instagram users say they have made a fashion-related purchase after browsing the app, and Instagram said more than 90 million people tap on shopping tags on Instagram posts each month.  

“Instagram is key to our marketing already,” Gogolak said. “We lead with Instagram video for just about every brand campaign we do. The ability to mesh the creative stuff with commerce is really important.”

Its popularity as a way to discover fashion translates into its value as a commerce tool for brands.

“Because Instagram has been such a big part of both collaborations [with Bernstein,] letting people shop where they already view the product was an obvious decision,” Stender Hawkins said. “The easier we can make it for consumers to shop, the better.”

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