Pinterest to make Visual Search and Social Commerce a Strategic Focus

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By Vlad Vidaeff

In a recent blog, we touched on Twitter’s decision to remove its buy button and what this means for the future of social commerce.  In stark contrast to Twitter, Pinterest has gone in the opposite direction with a strategic focus on social commerce.  This blog will describe Pinterest’s innovative new visual search feature as well as additional improvements to the shopping experience on the platform.

Pinterest is a platform with visually appealing content at its core.  As a result, it’s no surprise that the network has heavily invested in visual search.  It is actually quite cool.  You go on Pinterest, search and tap the visual search button, point your camera on your smartphone at anything you are interested in, and Pinterest will automatically do a visual search for everything you see.  Pinterest will focus on all of the objects in the photo it recognizes and then give you recommendations for similar items.  If the feature works accurately, it will be groundbreaking for the future direction of the company.  Think about the applications to home remodeling.  Let’s say that you want to update your kitchen and you decide to log on to Pinterest for inspiration or “Pinspiration.”  You find a pin that you really like and you are interested in finding companies that sell certain appliances, lighting, cabinets, etc. in the picture.  Pinterest’s visual search feature streamlines a close interaction between consumers and companies through innovation.

Pinterest has plans to enhance the buyer shopping experience that extends beyond visual search.  One of the new features to be introduced is a shopping bag that will follow users across all devices including mobile, desktop, and mobile.   This allows you to save a product on any device you want and then later purchase it on the device that is most convenient to you.  Another new introduction is merchant profiles which will allow users to browse personalized product recommendations from specific retailers, see what’s on sale, and what’s trending.  Users can select a specific group of retailers that they are interested in and connect with these retailers.

Pinterest user research and in-house stylist Larkin Brown stated, “shopping today is this always on cycle: You get ideas, you act on them, you look for new ideas.”  Buyable pins on Pinterest have made steady progress since they were introduced last year.  Roughly two million products from more than 20,000 retailers are currently offered on the platform.  The 2016 Internet Trends Report found that 55% of users on Pinterest view the website as a place to shop.  With 100 million monthly active users, Pinterest is positioned to become a beacon of social commerce with the introduction of the aforementioned features.  Since users who are in the introductory stages of the buying process go to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, if Pinterest can keep these users throughout the process, this will convert to sales.  Pinterest has access to all of the steps in the buying process and can thus work with partners to advertise and offer advertising tools which aren’t available on other platforms.  Social commerce has been a bit of a mixed bag thus far, but there is real promise, and Pinterest stands out as the shining star in the social media galaxy with the brightest future.


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