Buyable Pins? Doable.

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Pinterest's rollout of paid pins with buy buttons makes the notion of social commerce ever more viable.

This week, some 30 million pins on Pinterest became “buyable.” Pins of dresses, shoes, canoes—what have you–will light up with bright blue “Buy it” buttons that send users to transaction-ready Web pages. Among the paid advertisers in this rollout of Pinterest's social commerce program are Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, plus Demandware and Shopify stores such as Michael's and SOBU.

With Instagram's “shoppable grams” debuting last month and Snapchat in test with its own concept, the rollout of buyable pins moves the social commerce concept forward, and observers of the scene say its momentum will continue to build.

Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, which operates FreeShipping.com and Return Saver, sees it as a retail concept for the times. “There are roughly 100,000 e-commerce stores of different levels, some doing only about $10,000 in annual revenue,” he says. “It's so hard to build awareness and loyalty for brands, but things like buyable pins will be one of the first steps to awareness for brands small, medium, and large.”

Pins with “Buy it” buttons deliver users to pages where they can explore sizes, colors, and varieties of products before purchasing. Pinterest also fields a categorized “Shop our picks” listing where all buyable pins can be accessed.

“Three in 10 online shoppers are researching a new product to try, so Pinterest is setting itself up for success with the addition of the buy button,” says ex-Kraft Foods marketer Todd Bortel, now a managing partner at Seurat Group, a shopper engagement consultancy. “This is the newest example of reducing friction between need creation and purchase.”

More and better product discovery is Pinterest's stated goal for buyable pins. “For years, people have been discovering products to buy on Pinterest. With Buyable Pins, we'll be able to help more people discover and buy the things they love, while making e-commerce feel more like shopping at your favorite store,” says Pinterest spokesperson Mike Mayzel.

Caporaso, whose FreeShipping.com marketplace houses more than 1,000 retailers, says social commerce is a positive for Internet sellers. “They're going to disseminate a lot more content,” he says, “and more opportunity to share content is a good thing for retailers.”

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