Pinterest launches shopping cart, visual search in e-commerce push

Dive Brief:

  • Pinterest is rolling out a host of new e-commerce features, including a shopping cart that allows consumers to buy from multiple merchants with one cart. 
  • Pinterest also is expanding availability of a visual search tool that recognizes products in images and pulls up searches with similar results after users click on those product images.
  • Pinterest is also adding merchant profiles and expanding the use of Buyable Pin buy buttons from its mobile app to its website.

Dive Insight:

Until now, Pinterest has been seen as a natural social media platform for driving retail sales, but its only true e-commerce feature was buyable pins, which never really took off as a way for its users to actually make purchases. These new features, especially the shopping cart, should help the social platform to bolster its e-commerce presence.

​Pinterest has been actively rolling out new features lately, including three new ad targeting tools (visitor retargeting, customer list targeting, and look-alike targeting) and bringing back affiliate links after banning them last February around the time it launched the buyable pin ad unit. Pinterest has also added Oracle’s Data Cloud to track platform visits to offline sales, a key channel for retailers in today's omnichannel world. 

Pinterest's concentrated push into e-commerce is a move that retailers, manufacturers and marketers have long awaited. The addition of a shopping cart and merchant profiles brings the social platform closer to the functionality offered by major players Amazon and Google. 

But Pinerest will still have to fight against the perception that it has never really lived up to its e-commerce potential. A ChannelAdvisor report on social media sales conversions from last September found that Pinterest trailed Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

The report found that Facebook led all platforms by a wide margin, with 64% of marketers saying the platform drives the most sales conversions for them. Twitter came in second at 19% and Instagram in third at 9%. Pinterest lagged in fourth at 5%, although it performed better in the U.S. than the U.K. The upside for Pinterest is that Facebook’s sheer size likely influenced the results. Adjusting for traffic data, Facebook and Pinterest convert at similar rates, according to Scot Wingo, executive chairman at ChannelAdvisor.

Not everything Pinterest is trying will work, but the important thing is that it is trying, leaving the ads-and-analytics method of monetization to other social sites. Pinterest may not have been the first social network, and it may not be the biggest, but it's determined to put itself out on the leading edge of an evolution where social media appears destined to intersect with e-commerce.

Filed Under: Social Media
Top image credit: Flickr user Jason Howie