It has always been popular to shop in person- malls and shopping centers are widely attended by the public on a daily basis. However, online shopping, especially over the last decade, has become much more common. Why go to a store in person when you could buy your desired item at home with just a few clicks of a button?
Instagram has added this convenient feature- enabling online shopping through the app.
Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 and started showing advertisements a year later. In 2015, this strategy was further commercialized when Instagram opened up its feed to all advertisers.
Instagram was from then on able to access the age, gender, name, and other information from consumers in order to make the advertisements appealing to the specific person.
The app later allowed users to find direct links to a store’s website from the advertisement, making purchasing things through the app easier and more efficient.
Despite this promising development, many customers have found that some ads shown by Instagram lead to sketchy or unreliable stores selling fake or inauthentic products like clothing items, accessories, or even pieces of expensive technology.
For example, you might see an ad for a really cool sweatshirt while scrolling on Instagram which conveniently shows a direct link where you can buy the product. You click on the link and the app takes you to the product’s online store. The reviews and low price seems almost too good to be true! Everyone seems happy with the product according to the store’s own reviews, so what could be the problem?
In reality, many unreliable stores use reviews that they have personally selected (or contrived) and put them on the website to create a falsely-credible image for the product. To determine if what you’re buying is true to its advertisement, it is recommended to search for reviews of the store on Google.
If you find other reviews of the store that seem to be positive, then it is most likely safe to buy from it. But, if you can’t seem to find any other reviews of the shop on other sites, then you know that the store has probably changed its name due to people finding out that its products are unreliable.
It is also helpful to go through the comments under the store’s Instagram posts (if they have their own account) to see if anyone is complaining about the service or quality.
I have personally gone through this process with many Instagram-advertised shops, and it has saved me from buying things that would have either failed to reach my door or fallen apart upon delivery.
This isn’t to say that all stores advertised on Instagram are sketchy or unsafe- but it is always a good idea to double-check a store’s validity if you haven’t heard of it before.
Information From NY Times and CBS News