Pinterest rolls out its own version of QR codes

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If you are walking around a retailer, you might have seen a sign or something along those lines posted to check out its Pinterest account for additional content or products — but there was not really a seamless way to get to that account without a lot of tapping around.

Taking a cue from some of the prevalence of QR codes around the world, like China, Pinterest said today that it is rolling out its own variation of QR codes for retailers and brands. They behave like you’d expect for a QR code, where users can open the Pinterest app and use the code to quickly jump to a board without having to search or tap several times to get there. It’s another way of reducing friction to getting to the content from those brands or retailers on Pinterest, as a huge amount of the content on the service comes from brands or marketers.

“In China it works because when they see a QR code they open the app and scan it,” visual search product lead Jeff Harris said. “You don’t really know how you’re supposed to process it in the U.S. Pincodes are a really good use case. You open up Pinterest and tap the camera icon. We had so many partners asking for it. They had all this online content already and said hey can you use the camera.”

Pinterest users just open the camera app, which the company seems to be increasingly using to close the distance between the real world and Pinterest as it looks to get the right content in front of its users. Collapsing that distance, and shaving off even a small number of seconds to the experience of getting to a product, can be critical to getting a user on the service and keeping them engaged. It can then do its work of getting interesting content in front of them that they might not have realized they wanted to see in the first place.

By doing that, it offers brands and marketers an opportunity to get their products in front of users when they already have a ton of baked-in intent in terms of interest in a brand’s products. They might go to a shoe rack and not see a pair of shoes they like, but the retailer can direct them to a home with a much wider array of shoes that the company has available. And when they go to those pages, they have a Google-like intent of looking for products for potential purchase, which they can then start saving for later or continue down the road of eventually purchasing those products.

So it may seem like a little addition — and somewhat late to the game given how popular the tactic is abroad — but it’s a behavior that hasn’t quite stuck in the U.S. just yet. By making the process more seamless and tapping an already existing psychology, Pinterest gives its users a way to quickly access more products and give marketers a way to get more products in front of those users, which means it can continue to convince marketers it’s getting products in front of users in ways that Facebook or Google might not be able.