Using Pinterest as a shopping channel

Smartphone screen with social media apps

Smartphone screen with social media apps

Pinterest Using Pinterest as a shopping channel

Published on 21.06.2022 by Biljana Nikolic, Digital Commerce Consultant at Swiss Post

Customers are searching for inspiration and new products less and less often in our city centers. On the sofa at home, the smartphone is replacing running around town, and networks like Pinterest are playing an ever greater role.

Users publish photos of all kinds on image-sharing networks like Instagram and Pinterest. In short video clips or photos, they show their sporting successes, excursions, social occasions and experiences. More and more brands and retail companies are represented officially on the platforms, introducing their products, giving inspiration or showcasing themselves.

In the search for monetization opportunities, both platforms have discovered retail for themselves and want to be more than just a “display window”. In recent months, Pinterest in particular has introduced a whole range of functions that help retailers get started with social shopping.

Retail that reaches millions

Pinterest has around 400 million users worldwide. This makes it one of the largest social media platforms in the world, with a potential reach that retailers should not pass by. In the summer of 2021, Pinterest announced sales features for the first time in cooperation with Shopify (in German). The range has recently been expanded.

It’s all based on product data

There are two essentials for direct sales on Pinterest. First, retailers must set up a business account. This makes linking it with a shopping system like Spotify especially easy. The business account is the basis for placing ads or using the analysis functions.

After a period of three months, companies with a business account can apply to participate in the Verified Merchant programme. This is strongly recommended as it’s well-known that trust plays a significant role in e-commerce.

If the prerequisites are met, retail companies need suitable product data to enable them to use the shopping features. Newcomers and SMEs will probably enter their product data by hand into Pinterest’s catalogue feature. Here, it’s simply case of uploading the relevant file containing product data and information. Up to 20 different data sources are permitted and these are checked for updates every 24 hours.

Larger companies that manage a product data feed – for example because they are also active on Google Shopping or price search engines – can supply the product data URL instead of individual files. This is especially easy for users of the following solutions that are supported directly by Pinterest:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • Lengow
  • ChannelAdvisor
  • GoDataFeed
  • Feedonomics
  • Productsup

Once the product data are uploaded, everything is set. There is a whole range of features waiting to be tried out by retailers. “Idea pins” are one example of a special option for chargeable ads; these allow companies to work together with influencers who have a huge range. “Slideshow collections” enable the compilation of product images into a dynamic video. The particular benefit here is that the products shown are compiled individually for the users. Products are shown that the person has already shown an interest in.

The best part is that, thanks to the instructions and descriptions, there’s plenty of information about the business account and lots of ways to experiment with it. Larger companies will probably use the advertising formats on offer to raise awareness of themselves with targeted ads.

Pinterest is no sure-fire success

As with all activities on social networks, Pinterest takes some work. It thrives on the regular production and compilation of interesting content. Simply setting up a profile and showcasing a few products doesn’t automatically guarantee that users will even take notice. But even high-street retailers don’t open a new store and just sit back.

Attracting attention and offering inspiration with interesting photos, using tags and curated Pinterest boards are some of the things that make the presence an enduring success. It takes a certain amount of persistence, patience, regular content and of course promotion among the customer base.

Biljana Nikolic, Digital Commerce Consultant, Post CH Ltd

Biljana Nikolic has been working at Swiss Post since October 2019. Prior to this, she worked in retail for many years, where she was a regional sales manager at various companies. As a Swiss Post strategic advisor, she guides her customers into the digital future and supports them with this transformation – from determining digital maturity through to developing solutions.

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