Pinning a Correlation Between a View and a Purchase

Pinterest staked a major claim to both mobile and social commerce on Tuesday by introducing buyable Pins. Twitter and Facebook have already run meaningful experiments in this arena, but it’s the first major foray for the social network so closely associated with lifestyle aspirations.

Social commerce represented more than $3 billion in revenue last year. That was good enough for barely more than 1% of all e-commerce transactions, but it also came at a time with minimal support for commerce at a social network–wide level. In addition to making a major play to make any sponsored post a buying opportunity, Buyable Pins are a mobile commerce play. At launch, the buy button will be exclusive to Pinterest users on iPhone and iPad.

For direct marketers, buyable Pins remove the intermediate browsing and searching that can occur after clicking through a conventional sponsored Pin. “There are already great referral analytics out there saying that a purchaser came from Pinterest, but you don’t always know if you sold them the exact products they wanted to buy,” says Adam Forrest, senior director of Americas marketing at Demandware. “Being able to transact on Pinterest gives you a one-to-one correlation between what consumers are finding on Pinterest, and what they’re purchasing.”

Because it will be easier to correlate revenue with sponsored Pins, marketers will be able to further optimize spending on the Pinterest platform. At launch, buyable Pins are not expected to have a premium cost above standard sponsored Pins.

Buyable Pins are available to merchants on the Demandware and Shopify platforms. The technology is compatible with existing sponsored Pins, not only those created after the introduction of the buttons. Forrest says that for some Demandware clients, that will mean millions of purchase-ready pins will go live overnight once Pinterest flips the switch.

Putting brand-driven purchasing directly inside the social media experience will give marketers the opportunity to create a more seamless path-to-purchase. As revenue per Pin and per user exposure becomes clearer, it will be important for marketers to ensure that brand promises are as clearly articulated and adhered to through the social shopping portal as they would be on the brand-controlled storefront. “If anything, consumer expectations will be higher via this channel given that ease-of-use is a fundamental design principle of social networks,” says David Stover, global head of business-to-consumer omnichannel solution management for SAP’s hybris and SAP Customer Engagement and Commerce.

Buyable Pins will be live for all iOS users by the end of June. The functionality will soon be rolled out to other mobile platforms, as well as for the conventional browser experience.

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