Why social commerce is about to get way more “Pinteresting”

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Shouldn’t e-commerce be benefiting from the hours the average shopper already spends on social media? Social commerce predictably answers this with a definitive “yes.”

Yet another social site is expected to jump into the social commerce sphere in the next three to six months. Pinterest is best known as a scrapbooking site and its visual focus makes it a viable platform for shoppable products.

A few months ago I reported on the rise of social commerce. At that point Pinterest had just partnered with Shopify and introduced “product Pins,” also known as Pins that show price, availability, and notifications for changes in both. The more than 100,000 merchants on Pinterest have certainly benefited from this, and a buy button will take this to the next level.

One way that Pinterest’s proposed version of social commerce differs from Twitter’s is that it would let pinners complete transactions right there on Pinterest, similar to the way that Facebook has approached social commerce. No need to visit the retailer’s website or a third party. Re/code pointed out the advantage that Pinterest has over other social sites is that many of its 70 million monthly visitors already use it as a product discovery tool.

At the same time that Pinterest is planning to roll out a buy button, they’ve also taken actions to restrict referral traffic, much to the chagrin of fashion bloggers. This is an effort to cut down on “spammy behavior” that the company believes compromises the user experience, according to comments from a Pinterest spokesman in a CNET article. Many see this as the first step toward fully monetizing commerce on the site instead of letting the compensation for referral traffic flow out to external businesses and influencers.

One reason why the buy button could be coming soon is because Pinterest now has an install button that they’re calling app Pins. This makes is possible for pinners using iPhones or iPads to install apps that are related to certain boards without even leaving the Pinterest app. This is the latest installment to make pins more useful and actionable.

The next logical question is: what impact could this have on online retailers? Social commerce in the US is slated to reach $14 billion this year, according to Hubspot and 7 percent of respondents in a PwC study said that they had purchased from a company directly via social media. This makes me optimistic that social commerce will only continue to grow from here. In 2015, convenience is key, and social commerce will surely help fuel the e-commerce fire.

As more channels become integrated, one can’t help but wonder if social commerce is the future of retail. More selling channels mean more profits, and Pinterest’s potential step toward eCommerce might give online retailers the push they need to increase visibility and continue to improve the state of e-commerce.

Angelica Valentine
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Angelica Valentine

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