Why retailers are pinning hopes on Pinterest

Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:16pm EST
 
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By Beth Pinsker and Mitch Lipka

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After a tough day at work as a publicist in Minneapolis, Becca Bijoch would often indulge in a little retail therapy. She usually headed out to the stores as she did not care much for online shopping.

That changed last year when the 26-year-old joined Pinterest, a photo-sharing website that allows users to "pin" images to online bulletin boards based on their interests and to follow others. Bijoch says she has found all sorts of things that she bought after seeing them on Pinterest, from great kitchen tools on CrateandBarrel.com to clothes at Asos.com.

"I'm probably spending more now. I'm on the couch at night, after having two glasses of wine," Bijoch says, but she has no regrets. "I tell everyone that Pinterest has changed my life."

Pinterest, which was the fastest standalone website to hit 10 million unique visitors a month, now has 25 million members, of whom many - like Bijoch - are young, female, well-educated and have disposable income.

Retailers are hankering after these users, but it is sometimes difficult to nab them because Pinterest is an ad-free website and "pins" flourish virally. While many retailers have learned how to interact with consumers on Facebook and Twitter, they are still struggling to figure out Pinterest and the ways to make money out of reaching shoppers through it.

In that effort, many retailers have installed Pinterest buttons on their main websites, created their own Pinterest pages, and allocated marketing dollars to acquire followers. While Pinterest says it does not track metrics internally, many ancillary businesses have popped up to help companies harness the revenue-driving possibilities of the site.

"It's a huge window-shopping platform," says Kyla Brennan, chief executive of HelloInsights, a Santa Monica, California company that provides analyses of Pinterest use. "It helps people find what they really like. Does it encourage people to be a little impulsive? Of course."

E-commerce experts say Pinterest generates more dollars per users than some other social media sites, even though Facebook, the world's largest social network with more than a billion users, is a leading driver of shopping by volume.   Continued...

 
People interact with a Pinterest app on a tablet device during a launch party, August 14, 2012. REUTERS/Pinterest/Handout