Over the past few years, Pinterest has evolved to become a social media powerhouse for e-commerce. With 250 million monthly active users, fierce competition from the likes of Instagram, and an IPO on the horizon, the social platform has been ramping up its digital shopping capabilities and finding new ways to drive results for brands.
After launching in 2010, Pinterest realized that people not only wanted to save interesting Pins to build online inspiration but wanted to be able to shop and share those products too. In fact, the company’s co-founder and CEO is adamant that Pinterest is not a social network, but in fact “a catalog of ideas.” And the platform is making those ideas as buyable as possible.
Late last year, Pinterest introduced new Product Pins, making hundreds of millions of Pins shoppable, complete with up-to-date pricing and stock information as well as direct links to the retailer’s checkout page. The platform also rolled out a new shopping recommendations section so users can browse similar items from various brands.
Last month, Pinterest fully automated its Shop the Look visual search tool, scaling its ability to match objects in Pinned photos to similar products that users can purchase from retailers.
And earlier this month, the platform further expanded its social commerce capabilities with the addition of new product catalogs and personalized shopping recommendations. Now, users can see more from a brand by accessing its product catalog on the platform, and brands can easily upload their full catalogs to Pinterest and turn the images into dynamic Product Pins.
The platform also opened up access to its Shopping Ads by adding them to its self-serve Ads Manager tool, allowing brands to easily promote items from their existing product feed.
Thanks to tags, which can access a user’s activity on the website, Pinterest has been able to effectively track most online conversions and actions. This information is essential for brands’ e-commerce, allowing Pinterest to retrieve and report data across multiple devices, such as adding items to a cart or completing a transaction. This has made tactics such as retargeting users who have performed an action on the site relatively easy to implement.
By all accounts, Pinterest is succeeding in building a reputation for social commerce. According to research from Cowen and Company, 48 percent of users use Pinterest to find and shop for products, compared to 10 percent of Instagram users. And according to a Nielsen study, 98 percent of Pinners go out and try the ideas they find on Pinterest—surpassing the 71 percent average across all social media platforms.
Pinterest has been in the shadow of some of the other bigger social media platforms, but as the platform develops its own purpose and identity, it will no longer need to compete for audience sizes and growth rate. The platform is building its own purpose in the social media landscape, and brands that are wise enough to see the potential of its e-commerce power are ahead of the curve. How these brands stand out and build more success is entirely up to how much they want to invest in the current and future developments of the platform.