Pinterest’s evolution into shopping catalog

Pinterest is continuing to make itself a retail-friendly environment. Earlier this year, the platform released its rich pins feature, which enables brands and retailers to include metadata like pricing, stock availability and a “buy this” link to product images so that pins are more purchase-friendly. Pinterest’s latest retail move has been updating its “Gifts” category to make it a better browsing and shopping experience.

Pinterest has always had category pages that allow people to browse pins by areas like “Food & Drink,” “Architecture,” “History,” “Home Decor” and so on. “Gifts” is one of these categories, which has been on Pinterest just about since the platform launched; however, unlike scrolling through a category like “Architecture” to see images of cool houses and buildings, browsing for gifts implies some desire to purchase. Which is why just last month, Pinterest updated the “Gifts” category to pull in rich product pins and added a price-sorting feature.

According to Malorie Lucich, manager of product communications at Pinterest, Pinterest added these updates to the “Gifts” category after seeing success with similar features around the holidays.

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“We’ll gather feedback from pinners and brands as we continue to work on the best ways to help people discover great products on Pinterest and drive referral traffic to retail websites,” said Lucich.

As Apu Gupta, CEO of Pinterest analytics and marketing platform Curalate, sees it, this kind of shopping-friendly category is good for both retailers and consumers.

“Pinterest claims to have over 25 billion pins to explore, and product pins and product feeds cut this universe down to a digestible size and enable consumers to discover products that they can actually buy now,” said Gupta. “Cutting through the noise provides a better consumer experience, which ultimately benefits retailers. These feeds are just a first step but are an important one to gather Pinterest user feedback to further refine the future of product feeds.”

Over the past few years, Pinterest has established itself as an incredibly powerful driver of traffic and sales for retailers, and data-rich studies continue to come out showing that strong connection between the platform and sales. For example, many Etsy sellers’ products are on Pinterest, and according to an Etsy case study, Etsy seller Rachel Ball, after noticing how much of her Etsy shop traffic was coming from Pinterest, began paying attention to which of her jewelry products were getting the most pins, repins and favorites. Using these insights to inform her product planning, along with curating, she said her shop’s presence on Pinterest has helped her increase her Etsy shop pageviews by 22 percent a week, and increase her sales by 20 percent per week.

“I think Pinterest is making the platform a retail powerhouse by focusing on their users first,” said Gupta. “From Rich Pins, to Interests, to their acquisition of VisualGraph, to their advertising product, Pinterest is making product discovery easier and more relevant to users; and for retailers, the effort required to benefit from these innovations is minimal. As we’ve seen over 40 percent of the top 50 retailers in the IR500 [Internet Retailer 500 list] have already implemented rich pins, despite the fact that rich pins haven’t been around all that long.”

While “Gifts” is only the first category that Pinterest has added the price-sorting feature to, it seems that other categories could benefit from that too — like the “Home Decor” or “Products” categories. And, as Paul do Forno, svp and global lead of commerce at Razorfish, pointed out, this opens up the possibility of Pinterest creating and curating many other shopping-specific categories around themes, events and holidays. Forno thinks the real question is how long these kinds of features will be free for retailers.

“Google Shopping was free for a long time, and lots of people made a bunch of money from that, but as you know, Google charges for that now,” said do Forno. “I think Pinterest has been able to move very quickly to make itself retail-friendly, and I think the innovation will just start to accelerate — this is just the start.”