Social bookmarking site Pinterest which has 100 million monthly active visitors, has set its focus on driving effective sales on its platform this year. Like all other social networks, the five-year-old startup is trying to move out of the mould of only driving engagement.
In the month of June 2015, San Francisco headquartered Pinterest announced that it will very soon provide users the ability to buy products from inside of pinned items. Later in the month, the startup revealed the feature - Buyable Pins which was in the works for months.
These buttons are blue in colour and sit next to the regular red pins. Users can search for buyable pins. For example, when a user types “jacket” into the search bar and clicks on the blue “see more” button at the top right corner, Pinterest will show a number of jacket options. If the user further clicks on the blue “$” sign, they will be able to enter a price limit by scrolling up and down. Once they set a maximum price, they will be able to swipe through all the jackets within the price range and pick up their favorite.
When a user is ready to check out they can pay with Apple Pay or a credit card, Pinterest will store the consumer’s credit card information for future transactions. Pinterest sends the data via an encrypted channel to what executives called a “vault,” where the merchants will get the data from. Merchants will then let Pinterest know the transaction was made. Once the purchase has been made, users will be able to go back to searching and pinning their favorite items.
To begin with Pinterest launched with 2 million items ready for purchase while joining hands with major retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, Michael’s, Jo Ann Fabric, as well as brands like Kate Spade, Cole Haan, among others.
Commenting at the launch then, Pinterest founder and CEO Ben Silbermann said that the goal was to make shopping optimal for phones, noting that 80% of people buying things on Pinterest buy those things from their phones.
Nearly three months later after the launch of Buyable Pins, Pinterest said that the feature is bringing new customers on board. “One of the things we are hearing is that people are getting a lot of new customers through this channel,” Pinterest’s head of commerce Michael Yamartino told Marketing Land in a telephone interview.
“It’s not just people who were already going to buy this or who were already frequent shoppers at a store. So we are really helping businesses reach new customers. In a lot of cases, the data is showing that about 90 percent or more of the buyers are brand-new customers to the merchant.”
Not just Pinterest, several small business merchants who have activated Buyable Pins had corroborated the network’s claim. Heather Paul, co-owner of Spool No. 72, said Buyable Pins are definitely boosting sales. Eight weeks after activation of the feature, the clothing company is seeing 30 percent of its Pinterest-generated sales coming from Buyable Pins, she said.
Daily Chic, another online apparel company, is experiencing similar results. “The summer season is a little slow anyway but I’m seeing about 30 percent growth from the Buyable Pins,” said founder and CEO Brooke Sands. “It’s also increasing the number of items people are buying, which is always good.”
When Pinterest launched the feature, it said 30 million Pins included the blue “Buy it” button, now the company says the total Buyable Pins have doubled to 60 million.
The company also added thousands of new merchants with the addition of three new e-commerce platforms: Magento, IBM Commerce and Bigcommerce, the company said Monday during Shop.org’s Digital Summit in Philadelphia. Some of the new merchants include Bloomingdale’s, Wayfair, DVF and Steven Alan, among others.
Pinterest isn’t sharing many details about how the pins are performing but it quoted a study of Buyable Pins from Shopify merchants that showed 2x higher conversion rates compared to other Pins on mobile. This supports the recent research from Millward Brown, which found that 93% of Pinners use Pinterest to plan purchases and 87% of Pinners have purchased something because of Pinterest.
Pinterest isn’t taking a cut of transactions; it plans to make money by offering merchants the ability to promote Buyable Pins, though it isn’t doing that yet. Buyable Pins are still offered to iPhone and iPad users, with plans to bring them to desktop and Android in the future.
With the holiday season coming close, it would be interesting to see if Pinterest will still hold its stance on not making money from the Buyable Pins. However, Pinterest faces healthy completion from Twitter which is also working on a buy button, Facebook that’s been working on enabling commerce, and Google which isn’t behind along with YouTube displaying shoppable ads. Read also: How Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat & Google Are Integrating Commerce On Their Platforms.
However, Ben said on stage at IAB Mixx in New York last week that the company isn’t trying to be a commerce service. “We’re not trying to be a commerce service, but we want to be this planning tool for the future, and if you want to buy those things, we want to make it very easy.”
As long as the retailers are finding value and making money via commerce, Pinterest has the leverage to brand the way it wants to.