Given the rise in online shopping attributed to the coronavirus outbreak that has forced consumers to stay home from stores, Pinterest today is launching a new way to shop on its platform. Now, Pinterest users will be able to browse in-stock inventory from newly added “Shop” tabs on Search and on Pinterest boards. The company has also improved visual search to make more products shoppable from Pins.
The new Shop tab on Search will help users find in-stock items from retailers when they perform a search query, like “spring outfits,” “home office décor” or “kitchen remodel,” among other things. Before, users would have to scroll through a variety of search results, only some of which may have been shoppable.
In addition, when a Pinterest user now visits one of their boards containing shoppable items, they’ll see a new Shop tab there, too.
This will let them shop the products from the Pins on their board plus those that are “inspired” by the Pins. Again, this connects users to in-stock inventory for the items in question.
The new Shop tabs leverage Pinterest’s existing Product Pin technology, which links a Pin directly to the checkout page on the e-commerce website, encouraging transactions.
Turning inspiration into conversations that complete with a checkout transaction has been Pinterest’s Holy Grail and its pitch to advertisers. The idea is that people come to Pinterest early on in their shopping journey — when they’re just collecting ideas and thinking about what they want to buy. But eventually, those idle thoughts will turn into sales, Pinterest believes. So it created technology to help facilitate the transaction.
In another change, Pinterest has updated visual search to make more products shoppable within Pins. Now, when you hover over a Pin, you can click “Shop similar” to see related in-stock products for looks and rooms.
While making Pins more “shoppable” is something that has worked for larger retailers like IKEA, Wayfair, Target, Pottery Barn, Walmart and others, it’s not something that has reached as many smaller to medium-sized retailers due to the effort involved.
Today, retailers must first upload their product feeds through Pinterest’s Catalogs feature, then organize their products into smaller groups, and optionally launch ads. Pinterest says in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has been working with SMBs to learn more about their current needs. It has also been releasing a series of resources — like videos and webinars — to help retailers new to Pinterest learn how to list their online products for sale.
In addition to the new Shop tabs, Pinterest today is also debuting curated style guides that appear on some home-related searches like “living room.” These guides let users browse specific, popular ideas across styles like mid-century, contemporary and rustic.
The company says, overall, demand for shoppable products on its platform is rising.
The number of Shoppable Product Pins has increased by 2.5 times since last year, and Pinterest drove a total increase in traffic to retailers by 2.3 times since last year. In addition, the number of users engaging with Shopping on Pinterest has grown by 44% year-over-year.
However, specific terms have seen spikes following the COVID-19 outbreak, which has forced consumers to stay home under government orders and self-quarantines. For example, searches for “home office” grew by 70% over the past weeks, and searches for gifts like “employee gifts” and “care package ideas” grew by 4x.
The advantage for smaller businesses getting their products on Pinterest to be made shoppable is that they gain an even playing field. Pinterest says 97% of its users’ searches are unbranded — meaning people are looking for ideas using general terms or browsing visually, but don’t yet have a specific brand in mind. That means a smaller retailer’s product could even rank higher in search results than a larger retailer’s product, if it’s a better match.
Of course, there’s a limit to how much people are able to shop for non-essential items at this time, given the rise in unemployment related to the government-mandated business closures that have put millions in the U.S. out of work. Pinterest’s updates very much cater to those with the ability to now redecorate their homes or shop cute spring dresses, for example — not those struggling to get their basic needs met in a time of crisis. For the latter, Pinterest will remain what it often is — a dream board filled with wishful thinking and “maybe one day” ideas.