Wired: Countless people already use Pinterest to discover and share things they like, from recipes and craft projects to outfits and accessories. Now, the five-year-old social network is finally letting its users take the next obvious step: buying those things.
On Tuesday at an event in San Francisco, Pinterest unveiled buyable “Pins,” a way for pinners to buy products directly on the social network.
A blue button on the top right corner means a pin is buyable. Users can see an updated price and different colors and looks while swiping through various product images to choose what they want to purchase. They can check out using Apple Pay or a credit card. The buy-button features are rolling out in the US later this month as an update to the iOS Pinterest app.
“People use Pinterest as a boundless catalog of ideas, but it’s not about how many ideas are in that catalog,” said Ben Silbermann, cofounder and CEO of Pinterest, during the event at the company’s headquarters. “It’s about how each individual turns some of those ideas into reality.”
At launch, Pinterest is making “millions of products” available from department store brands such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, as well as via standalone brands, including Cole Haan, Kate Spade, and Poler. Retailers working with e-commerce platforms Shopify and Demandware can also make their inventory available on buyable pins.
All that said, Pinterest says it’s not charging a fee to buy or sell on the site. So it’s not exactly clear how the buyable pins will generate revenue. Typically, a third-party marketplace will charge a commission on a sale. But it’s easy to imagine Pinterest will go that route once it gets merchants and consumers primed on using the site as a shopping destination.
And for Pinterest, a company now valued at a whopping $11 billion, the initiative at least gives it another option for monetizing the platform in the future. The social networking site has been working to boost its advertising revenue for some time now. Earlier this month, it released an API aimed at developers interested in wrangling the data produced by the 50 billion-plus pins on the site to build apps. It’s also announced a partnership with Apple to make discovering new apps easier and opened up its Promoted Pins tool up to advertisers, a move that the company says expanded advertiser reach by as much as 30 percent on average.
So it would seem that Pinterest is finally, officially, throwing its hat into the ring of other social media players—which include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—who are looking to eke out profits through commerce. Out of them all, Pinterest seems like the most obvious platform to venture into retail, since the whole point of a pin is so often consumer preference. If Pinterest users are already saying what they want to buy, why not let them buy it?
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