Since its launch in 2009, Pinterest has become a scrapbook for the digital age. Want to assemble inspiration imagery for your upcoming wedding? Do it on Pinterest. Need a place to consolidate all those killer street style outfits you see every day? Do that on Pinterest, too. Want to make your own curated cookbook filled with cool recipes? You get the point. And while the social media platform has ballooned to more than 75 million users, according to the online analytics firm comScore, not to mention being a boon to retailers and brands alike for its ability to inspire purchasing (according to Pinterest, 87 percent of users have purchased items they found on the site at some point) the company has been reluctant to dive directly into e-commerce–but that’s about to change.
Pinterest announced this week that it’s debuting a new function called “buyable pins” which will enable retailers and brands to place “Buy it” buttons on items they post. The site has teamed up with major retailers including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Kate Spade, Macy’s and Cole Haan for the initial roll-out, and over two million blue buy buttons will appear on products posted to Pinterest by these companies, with a mobile launch starting later this month.
“Pinterest isn’t about getting your chores done,” Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said at the official announcement of the new offering. “Pinterest is about discovering products you love and getting inspired in the process.” He also acknowledged the disconnect that he’s hoping to fix with this feature. “Most of the time, I give up on buying [a product] or I email it to myself so I can buy it at home,” he said of this longstanding Pinterest pain-point.
When it comes down to it, the “Buy it” function is all about ease of purchasing. Users will be able to shop without ever leaving Pinterest—and without having to constantly update their payment information. Merchants will fulfill their own orders, and payment companies Stripe, Braintree, and Apple Pay will process the transactions.
According to Natalie Bowman, VP of Media at the Neiman Marcus Group, a shoppable version of Pinterest feels like a natural extension for the retail group, which has over 116,000 Pinterest followers. “There’s an element of serendipitous discovery to the Pinterest experience that we know helps expose Neiman Marcus products to new shoppers,” she told us. “By having a seamless shopping experience built into the Pinterest app, we hope to see more shoppers experiencing Neiman Marcus in a new way.”
For other early adopters, like Cole Haan, what’s particularly exciting about this new offering is its ability to capture shoppers browsing on their phones. “This is a mobile moment,” Josh Krepon, Cole Haan’s Vice President of Global Digital Commerce, said. “Our consumer is on their smartphone and on Pinterest. The ability to offer our entire product catalog on Pinterest will allow our consumer a quicker path from discovery to purchase.” It’s a point backed up by Pinterest data, too: 80 percent of people who shop via the site do it on a mobile phone.
Interestingly, Pinterest doesn’t plan to make money off this shopping feature by taking a cut of retailers’ transactions, but rather the site hopes to boost revenue by selling promoted pins—basically advertisements—to retailers, who can then insert shoppable pins into those ads.
Because of that, retailers and brands aren’t having to cede much control to Pinterest when they add buy buttons to their content on the site. “Cole Haan still controls the customer experience, from fulfillment, communication and returns,” Krepon told us. “It’s really an opportunity to grow our customer database.”
This news—along with Instagram’s recent announcement that it plans to launch shoppable ads—has retailers all too aware that the digital shopping landscape will look very different, very quickly.
“We’re excited to take the learnings from buyable pins to craft our future Pinterest strategy,” Krepon said of Cole Haan’s approach to navigating these new waters. What those learning are, only time will tell, though the general consensus among retailers on a fully-shoppable Pinterest seems to be: “finally.”