A new way to window shop

A new way to window shop
A screenshot of a products photo posted at the Instagram account of clothing store Everyday People.

It is only March, but Ms Kaitie Manani has made more sales in the first three months of the year than she did for all of last year.

The Australian, who runs the Singapore-based online swimwear and resortwear shop Vamastyle, says she has photo-sharing app Instagram to thank.

She began uploading product images of her designs more actively in October last year after she noticed that Instagram was popular among the fashion community. "It's not a coincidence that when I post an image on Instagram, I immediately get sales for that product," says Ms Manani, 35, who started her online shop in 2011.

Retailers say that Instagram, which was launched in 2010, has been an unexpected but significant boon to online shopping. Though users cannot buy anything directly on the app, it has nonetheless contributed to a growth in sales for shops that are savvy about posting to their accounts.

Ms Alicia Tsi, 26, who runs online boutique Al Et Clar, says that sales have increased by about 10 per cent since she started posting product photographs more regularly six months ago.

Ms Sarah Tan, who runs designer resale boutique Robe Raiders, says she can deliver images directly to customers without them ever having to go to the store's website.

The Robe Raiders account has more than 1,900 followers who bring in about 40 per cent of the boutique's sales. The store sells pre-loved designer goods from labels such as Chanel, Herve Leger and Tory Burch.

"Many customers come to our shop at Delta House because of the regular postings they see on Instagram," says Ms Tan, 35.

While websites take expertise and time to design and maintain, anyone can post an artsy picture to Instagram using the app's array of funky editing features.

With Instagram, designers and small business owners have found a publicity channel that is easy to use, free and reaches a target audience instantly.

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