Pinterest really, really wants you to shop from its pins

Shopping with Pinterest.
Shopping with Pinterest.
Image: Pinterest
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Most retailers would kill for Pinterest’s vantage point into the consumer brain, with its 100 million-plus users “pinning” pictures of their dream wedding, vacation, or home-design project. Now, the image sharing platform is capitalizing on user’s strong intent to purchase, by making shopping an even greater part of the experience.

Today, June 28, Pinterest announced new buyable pins and enhanced visual-search capabilities, building on last June’s decision to add a “buy” button to its mobile apps.

“Most people don’t start thinking of the holidays until October or November, or in my case until Dec. 24,” Kendall said at the company’s new San Francisco headquarters today (June 28). “But retailers are thinking about this now.”

Pinterest will expand buyable pins to the web, where it has 10 million products available for sale, up from 2 million a year ago. As a point of reference, president Tim Kendall notes that a typical Walmart has about 100,000 products on store shelves.

According to the company, 80% of users access the site from their phones. But because 84% of mobile shoppers switch between platforms—for example, to browse or save items from their smartphones and check out later from their desktops—Pinterest added a shopping bag that remembers items saved across different platforms.

Automatic object detection on Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

To help users discover more items they can purchase from the site, Pinterest made its computer-vision capabilities, which can “see” the subjects in pinned images, more robust. In the past, users manually zeroed in on specific items in a pin to find similar items from a photo. But new automatic-object detection, which is rolling out first on iOS, will highlight objects detected from image uploads and existing pins. Clicking on them will surface buyable objects that look similar.

These latest developments build on five years of work to turn Pinterest into a massive commerce business. Long before the launch of buyable pins, Pinterest began meticulously laying the groundwork for shopping from pins by enhancing its technology to help users discover and find pins.