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Retailers like Target and Nordstrom are turning Instagram into a mall

Lauren Lyster

Attention Instagram users: Depending on your tendencies, you may want to guard your wallets or pull them out.

Target (TGT), Nordstrom (JWN), Saks Fifth Avenue and Charlotte Russe are making it possible to directly shop on Instagram, using a new platform that allows users to seamlessly buy items they see on the retailers' feeds.

Related: Instagram and Facebook users, beware! Companies are scanning your photos

The technology, from the marketing and analytics firm Curalate, is being offered more broadly to other brands beginning this week (the firm works with more than 450), according to Curalate. The platform for the technology is called Like2Buy. It works like this: If a user sees an item she likes on her Instagram feed (for a brand using this technology), she can go to that brand's Instagram page to access a gallery, which allows her to click on the photo. She's taken to the retailer's e-commerce page for that item, where she can purchase it or at least see much more information about it than Instagram allows.

The CEO and co-founder of Curalate, Apu Gupta, told Yahoo Finance in a phone interview that for brands, Instagram is the "social media darling." He points to a Forrester study that found while people don't engage with branded social content very often overall, one social network blows the rest away: Instagram. Forrester studied more than three million user interactions and found Instagram delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook (FB), and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter (TWTR).

Related: Twitter worth more than Macy's and Family Dollar combined as stock surges

Gupta says his company's technology enables brands to monetize this Instagram engagement and allows social media teams to demonstrate the return-on-investment of their social media presence "beyond vanity metrics."

According to the company, other methods of shopping on Instagram require the user to enter their email address in the comment section, or re-type a hyperlink or product number posted on Instagram separately on a web browser, or register through a third-party app. In other words, it hasn't been very simple.

Related: 4 tips for protecting your passwords

Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, who is focused on the retail space, characterizes this development as "huge." He tells us via email that on Instagram, these brands "are visually hitting you with slick-on-the-eye photos, and providing an easy one-click option to ultimately buy the product. That ability to click through has not been there [until now] ... Also, through Instagram they are keeping you contained in one spot, no opening of random browser windows."

Bigger picture, Sozzi says retailers are increasingly removing the concept of money from the buying equation, by targeting people on social media feeds and tapping into their emotions. And he says in general, retailers from Best Buy (BBY) to Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN) are reducing the steps the checkout online.

Sozzi jokes that it have become too easy to shop.

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