Are you a fan of Pinterest? It was only a couple of weeks ago that they opened up their site and you no longer need an “invitation” to join, anyone is welcome (although as far as I can tell from my experience, anyone was welcome before, you just had to wait a day for an email invitation). So it seems that Pinterest is showing a real opportunity to monestise social media through integrating with businesses online, rather than just using the old pay per click model that the other social networks are following. The retail industry was the first to see tangible results from social media and I would bet my bottom dollar that not for profit organisations are the other big industry whose awareness and engagement with supporters has been boosted with the advent of social media. Anyway, back to Pinterest and retailers. Online retailers are seeing an uplift in traffic and now sales from social networking sites like Pinterest


Wired have documented a case study where online retailer Zappos (an Amazon eCommerce business) have created a product that essentially creates a system whereby Pinterest pins have been turned into referrals. I bet Pinterest is happy because now retailers are solving their very real problem of turning audience into revenue (Instagram had this problem also, a big user base but no money coming in, then Facebook paid $1billion for them and they no longer have a money problem). Zappos’ PinPointing product identifies which of their products are most popular on Pinterest. By calculating the pins on Pinterest pinboards, Zappos is now making real time recommendations to customers.


From my point of view this isn’t ground breaking innovation because Zappos is an Amazon company and Amazon are the trailblazer’s who made cross-sell recommendations best practice (if this terminology doesn’t mean anything to you, its the tool where eCommerce stores say “people who bought this product also bought that product” – iTunes, eBay and Amazon are the best examples). However, it is great to see the concept applied to social media and especially Pinterest which has built a natural affinity with retail.


I won’t regurgitate Wired’s article, because quite frankly it is so well written you should read it yourself – the link is in the paragraph above. But I’m not above summarising it for you. Zappos’ PinPointing product is not directly partnered with Pinterest, but it does leverage the social media site and it behaves like this:

  • You need to sign into the PinPointing site with your pinterest login, then
  • Zappos recommends products on its site based on the photos you or other customers/ users have “pinned” on Pinterest
  • PinPointing looks for brand, material, color, and product keywords from pins to find products on Zappos that might interest you
  • The product recommendations only really work for categories that Zappos has products in. Apparently there isn’t much relevancy to you if your Pinterest pinboard is full of food and drink, but if you’re a couture lover, you’ll be happy
  • If you find something you like from PinPointing, you can either buy it from Zappos, or pin it to your own Pinterest boards.


In Wired’s article, Alice Han, PinPointing’s lead designer has said the business and marketing objective for Zappos and PinPointing is “(1) Increase Zappos product pins on Pinterest and (2) Increase in sales, with an eye on conversion from our lesser-known departments (such as Wedding, Couture, and Housewares) that may surface frequently on PinPointing”.


Pinterest users send real shopping leads to online retailersTo support Pinterest’s relationship with online retailers, Shopify released some data proving that their customers have definitely seen an uplift in sales from Pinterest users and they now know that Pinterest users are 10% more likely to make a purchase on a Shopify website than visitors from other social media networks. Pinterest users on Shopify also spend more than visitors from any other site, including Google.


Mashable also support data from Shopify showing a definitely upward trend in Pinterest traffic to retail sites but the infographic isn’t as compelling a this one. But you can check out Mashable’s Pinterest infographic here if you want.


So I’m curious, when you buy products online, do you pin them to your Pinterest pinboard rather than share by facebook or twitter?