Retail

Snap and search: What does Pinterest’s new function mean for retailers?

Priscilla Pho /

Pinterest users can now search for products using their cameras or by uploading photos, creating another avenue for shoppers to discover small businesses selling online.

The new Lens function was rolled out on Tuesday and is intended to make it “easy to go from inspiration to purchase, whether that inspiration is sparked on Pinterest or in the real world”, the social media platform said in a statement.

Users can now upload photos as a query in the search bar. These visual queries are then matched to similar products, potentially for sale.

Retail expert Pippa Kulmar from Retail Oasis tells SmartCompany this opens up the value of Pinterest’s popular mood board feature to retailers in a commercially viable way.

“It’s starting to make the tool more interesting for retailers who are already on Pinterest.

“It’s giving them a reason to stay there and invest in it, instead of funnelling their money elsewhere or onto their own website,” Kulmar says.

In April, before the change came into play, Tram Tran, founder of fashion retailer Koogal, told SmartCompany she uses written SEO tactics on Pinterest to increase the exposure of her products.

“Pinterest is also a visual search engine, so try to do SEO whenever you can by adding relevant keywords to your pin’s description, and by pinning it to relevant boards and naming your board in a descriptive way,” she said at the time.

“For example, use the term ‘blue dress’ for describing your pins about blue dresses so when people search for ‘blue dresses’ your pins have a higher chance of being found,” she said.

However, The Party People chief Dean Salakas says SME owners should see this change as a “game-changer when it comes to the consumer and browsing in general”.

As a business that uses Pinterest heavily already, Salakas welcomes the move, but admits he doesn’t quite know how his strategy will change just yet. He does expect to see fewer people browsing in stores, and more choosing to do their shopping online.

“Why would you bother walking through the shopping centre all day to look for that dress you want or whatever it is?

“I doubt this will change overnight how consumers shop, but I can see it happening in the long term,” he says.

Depending on how Pinterest develops the pricing and mechanics of its commercial aspects, Kulmar sees little risk in adopting the platform while it’s free. She encourages brands with unique offerings to take advantage of this new function.

“If it makes sense for what the business is about, particularly if they have an iconic product to do with house or fashion or beauty … to be able to link through and use this as a means to a sale, why not?”

Kulmar also notes this change will keep Pinterest more relevant and competitive for commercial accounts.

“I think it helps defend Pinterest’s territory in a way, not from Instagram, but from what retailers are doing on their websites anyway, because a lot of people are looking into visual search or are looking at how to make the user experience more Pinterest-like,” she explains.

“The more and more they can link the commerce to the actual activity of creating a board, the better it will be for them as a business.”

NOW READ: “Ten times the traffic”: How this retailer grew sales 500% by using an overlooked social media network

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Priscilla Pho

Priscilla is a reporter at SmartCompany. You can contact her at [email protected].

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