10 Tips for buying on Instagram

Have you ever bought something from Instagram?

Obviously Instagram wasn’t intended as a marketplace (and I’m kind of surprised they let people sell items on there, honestly. laws and all.), but it’s become one of my favorite places to shop.

I’ve bought a few things from Instagram over the past year or so, mostly clothes and shoes, for me and for the kids, as well as a few things from auctions that benefit causes (families raising money for their adoptions and such). For the most part, it’s been a success and I’ve been very pleased with the entire thing, from start to finish. I have had a couple things go wrong, mainly when I’m buying through an Instagram account, but the item is being sent or donated by a third party, with no real accountability to send you the item.

A couple weeks ago, I snagged those cute studded flats (below) from Oliver Littles Shop and I can’t stop wearing them. I just happened upon her shop as I was doing my post-bedtime Instagram scrolling and was giddy to snag them for myself!

Some Instagram shops that I keep in my feed:

Tips for Buying on Instagram

10 Tips for buying on Instagram

1. Some Instagrammers have separate shop accounts: Most people who sell on Instagram use an Instagram account that is separate from their main account. Keep an eye out on your favorite feeds for shop and sale announcements.

2. Have your PayPal email address ready: If you’re like me, your PayPal email address is different from your main email address. To secure your bid/sale on Instagram, you’ll need to list the PayPal email address where you want the seller to invoice you. No PayPal account? Most sellers can simply send you an invoice via email, which you can pay using your credit card.

3. Be quick: Speed is the name of the game when it comes to getting an item you want on Instagram. Leave your email address and leave it quick! Many shops announce when they’ll start listing items, so that you can watch for new goodies.

4. Is it an auction or first email gets it? Most Instagram sales are first-come-first-served. However, some are auctions, where you can bid up an item in increments for a specific amount of time. Make sure you read the details from the seller before you start shopping/bidding, which are usually on their Instagram profile (at the top) or in a separate Instagram photo at the top of their feed.

5. Second is the best: Often, a sale falls through or a buyer doesn’t pay. If you didn’t get an item you want, try leaving your email address with a note that says something along the lines of “If she doesn’t want it…” It provides a nice backup plan for both the buyer and the seller.

6. It’s not a perfect system: Remember that this is not eBay and it’s not a perfect system. And, that sellers and other buyers are people. Be kind and realize that two bids may come in at the same time. It happens. Be gracious.

7. Pay ASAP: Most sellers invoice within 24-hours for your items. Be sure to pay ASAP, typically in less than 24-hours, unless otherwise requested by the seller. If you don’t, she might move on to the next person in line! And, if you don’t see an invoice come through your email/PayPal account, leave her a little note on the Instagram photo of the item you won, to give her a heads up.

8. Keep an eye out: Make sure your item actually, um, arrives! Shipping problems do occur from time-to-time.

9. Be okay with no return policies: Most Instagram sellers will have a “no returns” policy. If for some reason an item arrives and it’s grossly different from what they listed (a different size or a huge stain that they didn’t disclose, perhaps), get in touch with them via email, rather than blasting the on Instagram.

10. Say thanks: When your item arrives and you adore it, let them know! Leave a note on their Instagram account on the picture of the item you bought (if it’s still up) or on their shop notes. An email with your thanks is always nice, too.

I’ve seriously considered opening a little Instagram account to sell our gently used shoes (oh, how they’re piling up around here! and in a house with not so much closet space for shoes!), but I have sellers anxiety… Let’s save that for a post for another day!

Come say hello on the bellingFAM Instagram account. I often repost sales and shops there and share my favorites to follow.

Have you ever bought/sold anything on Instagram?
Any favorite shops that you follow?


6 thoughts on “10 Tips for buying on Instagram

  1. jessicajspencers

    Great tips — and great shoes! I’m gonna jot down these shops to follow. I’ve never done this and didn’t even know it was a thing. How cool. Do you follow Brickyard Buffalo on Instagram? They don’t sell there but they have a great flash sale website that I’m always drawn to by their instas.


  2. Amber

    I sell all my girls’ outgrown clothes on IG! I don’t think I’ve actually spent money on their clothes in months! I just sell and buy…an endless cycle! One other thing I’d note…unless you’ve dealt with the seller before or know them, gifting the money (as opposed to being invoiced) can be sketchy…if they don’t send your item, you’re SOL…paypal won’t guarantee a gifted transaction!


  3. Katie Kavulla Post author

    They’re new to me, Jessica, but added them to my follow list! I need to do another post on all of the stores/brands that do great giveaways on Instagram… There are SO many.


  4. Katie Kavulla Post author

    That’s SUCH a great tip, Amber! I don’t think I’ve ever ‘gifted’ the money, as I’ve always been invoiced. I’ll add that to the list! And, what is your store name on IG! I want to add it!


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