Pinterest: The New Way to Shop


As the holiday season nears, a lot of people will be looking for inspiration on Pinterest for all their holiday parties and gifts. Thanks to Pinterest’s new “Buyable Pins” feature, you can now purchase select items, making your holiday shopping even easier.


This Pinterest expansion is a huge development. As Neil Patel, contributing writer at Entrepreneur, calls it, “Pinterest is now a sales channel.” Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner explains that buyable Pins are a great sales opportunity for retailers and merchants, particularly during key holiday seasons like Christmas.


The Pinning Life

Pinterest is a social media site dominated by women, this much is true according to the Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms study. Pinterest is the only social media site dominated by women, with 42 percent of women online using Pinterest. In contrast, 13 percent of men online use Pinterest, but this amount has increased since 2013.


The male demographic is the fastest growing on Pinterest, which is encouraging for merchants targeting a male demographic. Regardless of the target demographic, merchants starting their first business account on Pinterest should take the time to get to know their Pinterest audience in order to build the appropriate following. Pinterest Analytics (available only to verified business accounts) is a great tool for this and will help merchants learn what types of pins are working with their target audience.

Pinterest Screen Shot 1

Posting consistently throughout the day is the best way to gain a following, but it’s also important to learn what makes quality pins because when it comes to buyable Pins, Pinterest is choosing to work only with “merchants who care about providing Pinners with the best possible experience.”


Quality pins include: an image with a vertical aspect ratio (ideally 2:3 or 1:3.5), good links, keyword-injected descriptions and categorized boards. Along with this, it is a good idea to optimize web content for pinning ease and using other social media to promote pins.


The New E-Commerce

Buyable Pins make it possible for Pinners to purchase products directly from merchants with a business account on Pinterest. Pinners can identify the buyable pins by the blue price tags and “Buy it” buttons next to the red “Pin it” buttons. Once a user has found an item to purchase through Pinterest, they can securely check out with Apple Pay or with a credit card.


To make shopping more effortless, Pinterest has added the “Shop Our Picks” and “Shop” Pinterest categories to allow Pinners to view only buyable pins. Pinterest also allows Pinners to filter the prices of buyable pins and swipe through different color options when applicable.

Pinterest Screen Shot 2

At present, buyable pins are available only in the U.S. for the iPhone and iPad Pinterest mobile platforms, select merchants and two e-commerce platforms, Shopify and Demandware. However, plans to expand to other markets and platforms underway.


Select merchants were chosen to spearhead the e-commerce expansion, including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Michaels, and Kate Spade, among others. For the time being, buyable pins are available to businesses that conduct transactions through either Shopify or Demandware.


Pinterest, Perfect for E-commerce

Merchants unsure of Pinterest’s move into e-commerce should consider the unique characteristics that make it the right social media platform for this e-commerce expansion.


First and foremost, Pinterest serves as a “visual bookmark” for interests categorized into boards by theme or topics. Although it is treated as a form of social media, Pinterest is less about socializing and more about the personalized experience provided by the “smart feed.”


Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann illuminates the personal quality of Pinterest in an article for USA Today. Silbermann points out that people pin only for themselves, “not others.”


The personal feel of Pinterest in addition to its highly visual nature may be the reason it acts as a major influencer of purchases. Ninety-three percent of pinners plan purchases on Pinterest and 87 percent have turned those plans into actual purchases, explains Jeff Sieh, founder of and host of the Manly Pinterest podcast.


Similarly, Patel claims 93 percent of Pinners “use Pinterest as their de facto shopping list,” and “a full 87 percent of Pinterest users admit to making a purchase because of Pinterest.”


A merchant’s Pinterest investment is more likely to pay off in comparison to other social media efforts. According to Stelzner, Pinterest content has the longest shelf-life of any social media network, with post engagement occurring beyond a month after it was first posted. In contrast, the shelf life of a Twitter post is 2.8 hours and 3.2 hours for Facebook posts.


For those impatient to take advantage of the new Pinterest feature, you can use Shopify or Demandware as your e-commerce platform to sign up for buyable pins. For the rest, Pinterest is allowing merchants to sign up for the buyable pins waitlist.




Josephine Cortez Ayala is a Public Relations Intern at esd & associates. She is a graduate of Trinity University with a B.A. double major in Psychology and Communications. 

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