Pinterest closing e-commerce loop with price alerts

Moving into e-commerce

Pinterest is moving deeper into e-commerce with new price alerts on goods that users like on the site, as the firm attempts to boost its value as a referrer of online shopping and close the loop between product discovery and sales. The firm started adding prices to product pins earlier this year and the new feature will keep users updated with alterations in cost, summarising all price fluctuations in emails that are sent as often as users want to receive them. The move pulls the firm into closer competition with sites such as The Fancy and Wanelo, which also aggregate shopping products ranging from fashion to design, but have more prominent options to buy goods.

Value Of Social

While many remain sceptical over the role social media plays in driving e-commerce sales, major retailers are starting to experiment with adding social layers and features to their sites. Amazon is the latest, seemingly taking a leaf out of Pinterest’s book, with the launch of a new ‘Collections’ section on its site where users can bookmark and share goods under particular categories such as books or fashion. Users can also follow each others’ feeds, as they can on Pinterest, and like goods, similar to features on Instagram and Facebook. Amazon has until now not really dabbled in social media, but with eBay making a similar move last year, it seems that major e-commerce firms are starting to see the value of social media recommendations in boosting engagement and driving sales.

Pin Push

While retailers are getting more social, Pinterest is trying to integrate commerce into its service. The firm has significantly overhauled its pin system in the first half of the year, as it attempts to mature its business from an online wish list where users collect recipes and images of everything from jumpers to novelty meringues to a portal where they can actually buy them. In May, the firm took the first steps toward categorising the vast amount of content on its site with new vertical-specific pins including products, recipes and movies in a bid to make its inventory easier to navigate. The firm claims there are already “tens of millions” of product pins on its site.

The firm also started fleshing out pins with information such as retailer logos and links to their sites, inviting brands to add coding to their sites to validate pins in order to highlight its value as a referral tool. Retailers are taking the bait, with Urban Outfitters, Netflix and Country Life just a handful of the retailers participating. Pinterest’s user base expanded to more than 50m last year, nearly five times larger than it was in 2011, so it’s not hard to see the appeal for brands, but the firm will need to start making money sooner rather than later if it is to assure long-term growth.

Investor Relief

Pinterest is starting to make promising noises about finally monetising its service, which has proved immensely popular with users, but has until now failed to lay out a long-term business model. This will come as a relief to investors, who poured USD200m into the company in February, in a deal reportedly fetching the company a USD2.5bn valuation, despite the widespread assumption the firm was generating little or no revenue.

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