The social media platform is moving into the retail business and wants to make it easier for users to shop through their website.
Pinterest has long been a favorite destination for consumers in the know who are looking for inspiration and new ideas. Frequently, users find their design along with some products they’d like to purchase. That’s why last year, Pinterest released “Buyable Pins” in their mobile app, enabling app users to buy the items in the pins without leaving the site. Now, the company is ready to expand “Buyable Pins” to its desktop website and trying to connect even more merchants with more shoppers.
In addition to the “Buyable Pins” expansion, Pinterest is also improving its visual search function, a feature it began experimenting with last year in the form of “Related Pins.” Related Pins used image recognition to suggest other pins with similar images. Now the company is going to use that technology to power searches on its platform based on items that users photograph in the real world.
The new tech will roll out on Pinterest’s iOS app and allow users to connect their mobile device’s camera to the app. Once connected, users will be able to take a picture and send it to Pinterest’s search box where the app will find pins with similar products. Using the Buyable Pins feature, users might even be able to buy the product instantly through Pinterest. Mostly, the tools turn the world into a shopping center; if you can photograph it, you can buy it.
The photo technology builds on deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence that creates “artificial neural networks” based on input data and then learns from this data to improve its ability to analyze and recognize new data.
Both new developments move Pinterest from competing as a social network with platforms like Facebook or Twitter and more into competition with retail giant and tech developer Amazon. Part of the shopping release changes the “Buy It” button into “Add to Bag” meaning users can purchase more than one item at a time a not separate from each vendor.
As Pinterest evolves into an advanced marketplace and moves directly into sales, it will be offering a service more like Amazon, a one-stop shop for all your needs, but backed by a social network that feeds you new suggestions on products to buy.
The advances Pinterest is making with visual search is also a page out of Amazon’s book. In 2014, Amazon rolled out Firefly, a scanning technology that could be used on QR codes, and also could capture images and find the products in them, turning the real world into a virtual shopping experience. This sounds a lot like Pinterest’s new tool, and the two will likely be in direct competition as they develop and refine the technology behind their respective visual search features.
In conjunction with the release of new features, Pinterest published a blog post with some impressive stats backing up their decision to move more deeply into sales. In her annual report on the Internet this year, Mary Meeker noted that 55 percent of people view Pinterest as a space for shopping, while in general, only 12 percent say the same about social media platforms.
More to the point, the company said in the post that, 93 percent of consumers indicate that they use Pinterest to plan future purchases and 87 percent make purchases after seeing products they liked. These stats make it clear that Pinterest has a lot to gain by making it easier for consumers to shop on their site. With over 100 million monthly users, the new tools are sure to improve the company’s positioning and revenue, and if used correctly by brands and advertisers can improve their sales and consumer outreach.