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Understanding Pinterest and eCommerce

In case you haven’t heard of Pinterest, it’s an image (and now some video) sharing social network where users can “Pin” their favorite images on their own page for the world to see and share. Fellow users can like, comment, or even “Repin” their favorite images to their page, similar to a Retweet on Twitter.

While Pinterest on the surface seems like yet another social network, the numbers say otherwise, especially for online retailers…

  • Niche demographics: Not every social network is ideal for every online retailer – some retailers find the most success from Facebook, others from Twitter. Pinterest features a demographic of primarily females in the 25-34 age range, making it a strong network for female apparel, beauty products, and even toy retailers to post photographs of their latest inventory and deals. 28.1% of Pinterest users have a household income of more than $100,000. 50% of Pinterest users have children.

“Pins” on Pinterest featuring a price tag in the left corner

  • In-picture monetization: One unique feature of Pinterest compared to other social networks is the ability for online retailers to post the price along with the product photo. This is done easily by entering the currency symbol (i.e. $) in the product description. While this may seem like a “no-brainer” for online retailers to use, there has been some recent research saying use of this tactic is mixed as seeing the price takes away the mystique of the item and users could be less likely to click through the photo for more information.
  • Strong conversion rates: While engaging in social networks has become not only a marketing effort but also a customer care effort, one of the strongest drivers of retailers creating Pinterest pages is due to the high conversion rates the site brings. Links from Pins on Pinterest are also ranked “do-follow” by search engines and are indexed by Google, meaning Pins will show up in search results unlike Facebook posts and Tweets. Repins are the most common type of post on Pinterest and in result of this referral traffic from Pinterest to online retail sites was almost 4% at the end of 2011.
  • Less competition: Pinterest is a unique social network for retailers because as users click through a Pin to an eCommerce site there is a call-to-action – purchase the product. While online retailers compete against content (articles) on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest traffic has a higher bounce rate on content-heavy sites compared to retail sites. Traffic on retail sites from Pinterest is more likely to stick around and look at other products than content-heavy sites where users often look at one article and go back to Pinterest. There are also currently no traditional advertisements on Pinterest (i.e. “Promoted Pins”), meaning retailers cannot simply buy their way to the top of Pinterest search or the front page. This rewards retailers who put in the hard work and establish their presence on the network.


There’s no denying Pinterest holds some strong value for certain online retailers, but there are some notable concerns including image copyright infringement. As the social network continues its growth (which has been starting to slow recently) expect many changes to occur not only from the Pinterest team but also how the users of Pinterest interact with the site. Online retailers who feel their audience falls into the unique demographics of Pinterest may want to consider launching their own brand page, or at the very least securing their own brand name to avoid “squatters” and monitor their image on the social network.