Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Instagram is testing home feeds without a shopping tab, marking a shift in how the platform treats e-commerce.
Some Instagram users (including some of us here at The Verge) have noted in recent days that the shopping tab, previously on the bottom navigation bar, has been replaced with a notifications tab. Shopping, meanwhile, has been moved to a second menu, buried among options like settings and saved posts.
Meta spokesperson Anne Yeh confirmed the changes as part of a limited test.
“As part of our continued work to simplify your Instagram experience, we are testing a few changes to the main navigation bar at the bottom of the app with a small number of people,” Yeh says.
Moving the tab is a conscious decision on the part of Instagram as the company pivots away from shopping features. Earlier this month, The Information reported that Instagram is changing course on its approach to e-commerce, including eliminating the button that leads to the shopping page in March 2023, according to an internal memo. Instead, Instagram shopping will focus more on boosting Meta’s ad revenue, The Information reported, and the platform will test a less personalized shopping page dubbed “Tab Lite.”
For the past few years, Instagram has added features like the shop tab in an effort to make the platform a place where users buy the products they see on their feed without leaving the app. And though plenty of users use Instagram as a way to discover new brands and products, it’s unclear how successful the shopping page ever was.
Still, Meta has continued to roll out new features around shopping, including an update to messaging that allows business owners to handle customer service via DMs.
“Commerce remains important for Instagram as we continue to make it easier for people to discover and shop products throughout the app from feed, stories, reels and innovations like live shopping and drops,” Meta’s Yeh says.
How to monetize shopping is a question other platforms have also tried to figure out, with varying success. TikTok has experimented with product pages and live shopping, the latter of which is wildly popular in China but reportedly didn’t take off in Europe, causing the company to pull back on expansion plans. Twitter, meanwhile, has introduced features like product release reminders and a shop module for brands to showcase what they’re selling, though internal documents suggested updates were hastily rolled out and posed content moderation risks.