Pinterest Reveals Mock-Up For Its First “Buy Button”

See a yummy recipe, instantly order all the ingredients. Find a cool product, instantly add it to your Amazon Wish List. That’s the plan for “Action buttons” on Pinterest’s new developer platform. Today at MIT’s Emtech Digital conference, Pinterest’s head of partnerships, Tim Kendall, showed detailed mock-ups of how developers could eventually pass the service extra data that could power Buy, Wish List, and other utility buttons inside Pinterest.

[Update 6/2/2015: Pinterest just launched “Buyable Pins” which let you pay for things right on Pinterest. Check out our full story on the big announcement.]

The social giant vaguely teased a platform on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY and in a blog post last month, but focused on developers building third-party apps with personalized experiences based on people’s data pulled from Pinterest data. Today we got details of how third-party experiences and Buy buttons could be built directly into the product discovery service that sees over 70 million active users.


Currently, Pinterest’s partners like big brands pass it pieces of data such as price that are shown on their Pins of products which they hope users will repin. Kendall told me after his session that these partners could soon push more data into the API, which could “enable pretty sophisticated experiences” like multi-product Buy buttons.

Right now, Pinterest doesn’t have Buy buttons, though they’ve been predicted and rumored for years. It simply lets users click through a pin to an external website where they might be able to purchase the item. But that doesn’t work so well in some cases, like when you’re looking at a recipe with a long list of ingredients. You’d have to hunt them each down and add them to your cart manually. It’s not too mobile-friendly, either.

[Update: Re/Code reported in February that Pinterest was working taking payments in-line on its site and apps with a Buy button, but the version showed today works quite differently. The mocked-up Buy buttons pass traffic on to external retailer sites and apps where users would complete purchases.]

Pintereste Action Button

Kendall demoed how a grocery delivery service like Instacart or FreshDirect could integrate a deeplinked Buy button into its recipe pins. When clicked, this “Get Ingredients Delivered” button could instantly open a shopping cart in the Instacart app or site filled with every one of the recipe’s ingredients. With a single tap, you could buy all the ingredients at once, have them delivered, and start cooking what you discovered on Pinterest 45 minutes later.

Kendall called this the culmination of the discovery-purchase-experience flow that Pinterest hopes to provide, though he noted it’s all still conceptual and Pinterest hasn’t held talks with potential partners yet.

Still, another example he demoed showed how you could find a lamp on Pinterest and instantly add it to your Amazon Wish List thanks to a “Wish List” button powered by data Amazon sends to the Pinterest API.

Pintrest Wishlist Button

Why would Pinterest want to allow these kinds of Action buttons? Because it wants brands of all sorts pouring their wares into its discovery network. If partners can drive more sales through these Action buttons, their availability incentivizes them to create storefronts within Pins of everything they offer. More content keeps more people spending more time on Pinterest. And the startup could also charge partners to amplify the reach of their Action button-augmented Pins by turning them into ads.

In essence, the fewer steps between discovery and purchase, the more Pinterest can fulfill its mission and make a fortune in the process.