Instagram and Facebook boutiques - How social media has changed the way we shop


Some people still prefer the tangible experience of shopping in brick and mortar stores, but increasingly South Africans have been reported to do more shopping online. 

E-commerce, however, has not been limited to formal websites but social media pages as well. Before Facebook Inc created built-in shopping functions on its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, users started pages selling products they had at their disposal.

Naturally, many second-hand clothing shops became popular online. I remember in varsity we had a citywide second-hand clothing Facebook group where I sold clothes I no longer needed for a quick buck and bought the latest trends from someone who no longer needed them. After meeting at a convenient location money and goods are simply traded. 

Social media stores and boutiques have long graduated from that. Not only has Facebook introduced shopping functions and Instagram users having bargained the app’s aspirational features and influencer communities to create coveted online boutiques, this has been followed by an exclusive shopping button by the app creators.

READ MORE: "I was duped by a local Instagram shop"

With a brewing social media shopping culture, even if it’s just ‘window shopping’, we see a popcorn effect of more and more trendy fashion boutiques, and other ways of shopping on social media.

THE marketing tools

By simply promoting your boutique or products on Twitter with the phrase “my next customer could be on your feed” or by tagging #buyblack, with the right eyes on the post you can reach masses of people and draw attention to a business you might be hosting on Instagram.

An example of this kind of this undertaking is Tswelopele, the 18 year old who had her family model her designs on Twitter for her store on Instagram. Find out more about how she does it here.

Anyone on a Whatsapp contacts list for a fashion store? I’m on a thrift shop contact list based in Joburg. Like Twitter, this is a low cost marketing platform and the Whatsapp stories are as convenient as ever for this type of marketing. 

Shop from your favourite influencers

Recently Nandi Dlepu hosted an Instagram-IRL sale featuring “pre-loved goodies” from style mavens Thithi Ntetha, Cassandra Twala and Tumi Mohale. On a first come first serve basis, shoppers saw teasers on what would be included in the sale.

READ MORE: Big cosmetic brand quits social media completely while Instagram promises it has a few new tricks up its sleeve  

The likes of DJ Zinhle and Yoliswa Mqoco are just some of the Instagram stars that have hosted sales solely on their Instagram pages, in their cases they sold home décor they no longer needed.

In 2017, DJ Zinhle hosted an Instagram auction, the first I’d heard of at that point, sending her followers into a frenzy. In a now deleted post, style Instagrammer Yoliswa Mqoco has also hosted a home décor sale of her own from her beautifully decorated space.

The boom of online vintage stores

In the same vein of secondhand shops, carefully curated and niche stores items have become somewhat popular. Enter the vintage online stores.

Hombakazi Vintage Cabin is one of the long-running social media driven vintage fashion stores. Having started the store on Facebook, founder Mbukwashe Zwide ran the store on Instagram as well and has since branched into selling non-vintage clothing and accessories.

Online store Denim Palace is an embodiment of its name, her you will find the most coveted branded and non-denim, from mom jeans to miniskirts to denim jackets. This store is found on Instagram as well and provides well curated Insta content in addition you’d like on your feed. 

While trust for general social media stores is fickle as seen on website stores, shopping from people you follow and already trust does bring about opportunity expand the circle of life of clothing, accessories and household décor items through a reliable mutual exchange.

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