Pinterest’s Buyable Pins and The Future of Mobile Commerce

Nov 10, 2016 | Pinterest

It’s safe to say that mobile is not a passing trend. Smartphones have changed everything about the digital landscape—okay, almost everything. More than two thirds of the time we spend consuming digital media is on a mobile device and most of that is done through a smartphone app.

mobileInterest in mobile advertising is growing as a result. Just look at where Facebook’s ad revenue is coming from: most of it is mobile. Also mobile advertising is relatively cheap, certainly much less expensive than “desktop.” That’s the good news. The bad news is, conversion rates are much lower on mobile. But one of the top social media apps, Pinterest, has come up with a feature that could seriously increase conversion: The Buyable Pin. Considering that 80% of people on Pinterest at any given time are using the mobile app, the Buyable Pin will likely prove itself very quickly.

A moment ago, we said the smartphone has changed almost everything about the digital world. So what hasn’t changed? How we buy things online. The great thing about mobile apps is that you can be connected wherever you are. Sure, you can update social media while you are riding an escalator, but have you ever tried to enter credit card information riding one? Mobile is just not convenient for commerce—but then again, there is Amazon. With the Amazon app, you really could do your holiday shopping on an escalator. Amazon has your credit card information stored, and because of it, with two clicks and a thumbprint authentication on an iPhone, the fluffy size-seven slippers for your Aunt Helen are on their way to your door.

Amazon aside, it’s no wonder mobile commerce is rare. Here’s what the typical ad-to-conversion process might look like. You see an ad for something you’re interested in. You click on it, which takes you to the vendor’s site (which may or may not be intuitively designed), you add it to your cart, and eventually you navigate to a checkout process. Then you’re prompted to log in. Even if you’ve shopped through that site before, you probably won’t remember your login, so you create a new account, and then you enter your credit card info. Pretty soon it’s taken you 22 clicks and 13 minutes to buy Aunt Helen’s slippers, if you haven’t already bailed on the transaction.

Buyable Pins, on the other hand, work like Amazon. Once you register credit card info and associate it with your account (via buyable pinse-commerce partners like shopify or demandware) you can click-to-buy inside the Pinterest app. And here’s something else we like—Pinterest does not take a cut of the sale price. Buyable Pins are all about, as Pinterest says, “providing Pinners with the best possible experience.” That’s key, because the beauty of Pinterest for advertisers is the Pinner’s experience.

Generally speaking when people jump on Amazon, they go with the intention of buying something. Not so Pinterest. People go there to browse, to see what their friends like. When they see a Buyable Pin for a comfy chair or a cool rug, and think, “Hey, that would look great in our living room,” they can click to buy it. The impulse purchase potential is incredible. Buyable Pins remove the main barrier of mobile e-commerce, which is complexity.

Buyable Pins are a recent innovation, and they have definite value as a retail advertising and sales channel. For the right products – fashion, home goods, furniture, and the like – it’s a perfect fit.

So how do you make money on it? Our take is that early brands will be the biggest winners in capturing the attention of Pinners and their network–and as always, to the victor go the spoils.

Figuring out the right way to enter, test, refine and capitalize on Buyable Pins will take a strategy and partner willing and able to collect, organize and understand the data. We love these challenges. Interested in learning more about how we’d guide you into the world of Buyable Pins? Get in touch.


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