Instagram adds reels and shopping button in navigation bar

Instagram refreshes the homescreen to highlight Shopping and Reels. The company is introducing a new design that gives Shopping and Reels a permanent place in the app’s navigation bar.

Instagram is putting its TikTok competitor Reels front and center in a redesigned version of its app, giving it the center position on its new navigation bar. The update, which arrives today, also replaces the Activities tab (heart icon) with the Shopping tab after testing those homescreen changes earlier this summer.

Facebook tested the changes in September using three homescreen variants that gave either Reels, Shopping or both features a permanent place in the navigation bar. The three options for the horizontal menu would involve adding two new tabs that could replace existing icons or be added to the bar.

What is the shopping tab?

The Shopping Tab is meant to further Facebook’s efforts towards an e-commerce platform. Thus, shopping on Instagram will become even more relevant and present. The Shopping Tab takes users to a custom shopping page that showcases select products from brands and creators. In general, Facebook wants to implement shopping on their platforms as well as WhatsApp. We have also already written a blog post about this.

The shopping tab was already presented a short time ago, tested and is now being rolled out globally. In addition, Instagram had announced to integrate a shopping checkout on the platform. This would mean that users would no longer be redirected to external online stores, but could buy goods directly on Instagram. So far, however, this function will only be available to selected retailers and brands in the US. So it remains exciting when this function will also conquer the German market.

Reels button aims to close the gap with TikTok

The redesign, which makes Reels the main button in the app, is an aggressive attempt by Instagram to drive users to its short-form video feed, which has so far received a weak reception from critics. Critics feel Reels lacks competitive features, contributes to Instagram’s bloat, and offers a lot of recycled TikTok content. At best, it was seen as a shameless clone.

The newly released Reels features are meant to compete with the massive success of TikTok’s short-form video model, offering users the same music-based clips found on TikTok. The Reels tab has also already been tested with some users and is now being rolled out globally at the same time as the Shopping tab.

In a blog post, Instagram director Adam Mosseri said the shift reflects a growing shift toward short-form video content and an increase in purchases during the pandemic.


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