Pinterest is open for business and trying to make the world “buyable.”
The social sharing platform outlined a number of commerce-minded updates Tuesday that will help consumers buy as they pore over the pins for inspiration and use their cell-phone camera as a shopping search tool.
Users can be inspired to shop at any point and across devices in the digital world as well as off-line, said Pinterest’s Tim Kendall during a presentation at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.
Some of the shopping updates are available today, including the addition of Buyable Pins to the web, expanding the feature that had previously only been available on the platform’s mobile app. Users will also start to see recommended items and can add purchases to a shopping bag that works across all devices.
Merchants will also get some love with profiles that let users browse for products from specific retailers.
Kendall said after introducing Buyable Pins with two million products in June of last year, there are now 10 million products for sale on Pinterest. He emphasized that the platform is increasingly being seen as a shopping tool and that research has shown 55 percent of people come to Pinterest to shop. By comparison, only about 12 percent of users turn to social networks to shop.
“One hundred percent of the time, people are looking for ideas — not for news or pictures of friends and family, but for ideas,” he said.
Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali said these updates “should improve their conversion rates and hopefully they’ll see greater gross merchandise volume. I think the buyable Pins had a lot of execution problems, starting with the fact that you couldn’t really save a cart and you had to complete the transaction in that session.”
She said this gets Pinterest closer to how people really shop.
Kendall noted that when someone sees a product on the platform, they are twice as likely to buy it in store. And when a merchant promotes a Pin, users are five times more likely to buy it in person.
Pinterest stylist and researcher Larkin Brown added that although so much focus of late has been shopping on mobile devices, consumers are device-agnostic and the shopping journey is far more diverse than a conversation surrounding “desktop or mobile.”
“Many of the things we accept as common knowledge don’t apply to online shopping,” she said.
Brown said she has found that 80 percent of people who use Pinterest use it on their phones, but 84 percent of people who shop on their phones also shop on a laptop.
These updates, Kendall said, go back to Pinterest’s mission of helping people discover and do what they love — and increasingly, that means helping people find and buy.
Pinterest also plans to add a camera search feature that lets users take a photo of an object in the real world and find related products on Pinterest.
This tool will be introduced in the next couple of months, and will come with additional enhancements to Pinterest’s existing visual shopping tools. This means that any image can be used as a search query, whether they are Pins, screen grabs from the web or photos snapped in the real world. All of the objects in the image are detectable, and by providing related recommendations, Pinterest essentially enables all of the items to become shopable on the platform.
Pinterest software engineer Dmitry Kislyuk said in addition to the more than two billion monthly idea searches on Pinterest, there are about 130 million visual searches each month. With this new capability, he said, “You can walk into a room and get recommendations from every object that you see — on Pinterest and the real world.”
It’s still early days in the world of visual search, though.
EMarketer analyst Debbie Williamson said: “I wonder about how the camera search feature will work in the wild. Will they have a library of images so large that you can aim your camera at anything, even off-line, and get linked to a pin about it? That seems like an enormous endeavor.”