Brief:

  • Pinterest is letting people shop for products they find with Lens, a visual search tool that uses image-recognition technology to identify objects with a smartphone camera. The Shop tab appears above a feed of shoppable posts of matching in-stock products at retailer websites, per an announcement.
  • ​To use the feature, shoppers need to click on the camera icon in Pinterest’s search bar to identify products they see in their immediate surroundings. They also can upload an existing photo to Pinterest to match items available for sale in Product Pins, as the company calls shoppable posts. Product Pins point directly to the online checkout pages of retailers.
  • About half of Lens searches are in the fashion and home decorating categories, including prints and artwork, shirts and tops, dresses, shoes, jackets, vases, mirrors, rugs, plants and throw pillows, per Pinterest.

Insight:

Pinterest’s new Shop tab in its Lens visual search tool gives mobile marketers a way to showcase their products in Product Pins when consumers are most ready to buy. Eighty-three percent of Pinterest users have bought products based on brands they saw on its platform, according to a study cited the company. The new shopping feature in Lens may help marketers lead Pinterest users on the path from product discovery to final sale in fewer steps.

Several product categories have seen a notable increase in searches in the past few months, making them ripe for discovery among homebound consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. Searches for at-home beauty products such as press-on nails rose 30% in April from February as many nail salons remained closed during lockdowns. Searches with the term “home office” surged 2.7 times to a record high, while “grocery shopping list” doubled to a historic high during that period. The company also has seen a lift in seasonal trends, with searches for “backyard furniture” jumping threefold to record highs in May from a year earlier.

Brands in those search categories have a chance to reach shoppers as they seek new products. Marketers need to set up a business account with Pinterest before putting their product catalogs on the platform or buying Shopping Ads to promote their wares among a broader group of users.

With this week’s introduction of a Shop tab in Lens, Pinterest is combining two features that support its evolution from collections of digital pinboards into an e-commerce platform for mobile marketers. The company in April introduced the Shop tab to help people find in-stock items from text searches. In February, Pinterest debuted its verified merchant program to help consumers find and buy from trustworthy brands. The following month, the social platform introduced its Today tab, highlighting trending posts and curated topics to inspire users. And in November, the site unveiled a curated marketplace to highlight smaller merchants ahead of Small Business Saturday.

For Pinterest, e-commerce is another opportunity to monetize its user base, which expanded 26% in Q1 from a year earlier to 367 million. Its total revenue grew 35% to $272 million from the year prior, including a 136% surge in international sales. However, Pinterest warned that revenue fell 8% in April from a year earlier as the pandemic led advertisers to pull back on media spending. By offering more shopping features, the company can set the stage for stronger growth in advertising and e-commerce as the economy recovers.

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