Instagram to ditch shopping tab and actually focus on content creation

Instagram shopping
(Image credit: Hannah Rooke)

In an attempt to make Instagram about content creation once more, the company will remove the shopping tab from the bottom toolbar. Come February, businesses will still be able to sell products through the platform but Instagram wants to invest in “shopping experiences that provide the most value for people”.

The Instagram rollercoaster has been full of ups and downs these last few years. From introducing carousel posts and reels then prioritizing them over photos, to trying to be TikTok (opens in new tab) and even getting censorship wrong (opens in new tab), the company has made some pretty big faux pas. Positive change has happened too, though, as Instagram returned to a chronological feed (opens in new tab) and just recently it announced that it would favor photos and reels equally again. Hooray!

• These are the best cameras for Instagram – easy to use, budget-friendly and WiFi enabled!

Now the company seems to be taking another step 'backward', but for most content creators it's a welcome one. Brands and businesses may not be so hyped to hear that the shopping tab will be removed from the toolbar on the home page, but Instagram isn’t removing the capability to sell entirely – it’s just making the home screen less cluttered. 

Instagram shopping was first introduced in May 2020 as businesses continued to face the challenges of selling online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although launched in an attempt to keep businesses going, and provide an easy way for people to shop, the feature has perhaps not been as big a hit as Meta had hoped. 

Not every single brand that appeared in the shopping tab was able to sell products directly on Instagram, which was a little confusing; while you could purchase some items, others would simply divert you to the official website. It does, however, bring together lots of products based on your likes, searches and accounts followed, so you can find some really ‘you’ products and brands that you may not have discovered otherwise. 

Sometimes you need to take two steps forward and one step back to realize what is important, and it seems like Instagram has been doing just that. There has been a huge demand to make Instagram a content creation platform again – there was even a 'Make Instagram, Instagram Campaign' started by @illumitati (opens in new tab), who was fed up with photo posts not being seen and engagement continually dropping. 

As a photographer and a small business owner selling handmade polymer clay earrings, I really can understand the advantages and disadvantages to both sides – but at the end of the day, if you want to sell products you can use platforms like Etsy. Instagram should continue to be primarily a photo-sharing platform but, if you can easily buy stuff without it taking over, then that’s great too. 

Learn  how to use Instagram reels (opens in new tab) and add multiple images in your Instagram story (opens in new tab) or discover the best camera phones (opens in new tab) - perfect for Instagram!

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.