The coronavirus pandemic has brought about some surprising new feature development at Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app where the equivalent of a retweet still requires some trickery to pull off — but where ordering food delivery from inside the app is now as easy as making a single tap on your screen.
Instagram on Wednesday announced a handful of updates to the service that are meant to help struggling small businesses amid the coronavirus crisis, one of which includes stickers that can be tapped to take people to a business’ website where users can order food delivery and buy gift cards. “Small businesses are an important part of our community, and many are facing immense challenges during the COVID‑19 crisis,” Instagram announced. “Today, we’re making it easier to discover gift cards, online food orders, and fundraisers on Instagram so you can support the businesses you love.”
As you can see below, the idea here is that businesses will include these stickers in their Instagram Stories, and there’s also now a way to add a button to those business’ Instagram profiles that allows for a quick tap to buy a gift card. That’s especially useful for closed businesses right now. My hometown is served by a local, family-owned and operated theater chain, for example, which has been closed for weeks because of coronavirus-related local regulations. One of the few ways people can support it during this time is by doing something like this, buying a gift card now (which gives the business badly-needed funds right now) to use later, once its locations open back up.
As part of this same announcement today, Facebook is adding the ability for businesses to add fundraiser stickers to their Facebook profiles. When tapped, those open on Facebook to a personal fundraiser created by business owners or their supporters. “Gift cards and food orders for delivery and takeout are available in the US and Canada starting today and will roll out globally in the coming weeks,” Instagram’s announcement concludes, “and fundraisers will be coming soon.”
For context around why features like these are so necessary, the economic pain stemming from the coronavirus crisis is so acute that a new report finds more than 7 million small businesses are in danger of closing for good.