Pinterest & Retailers Agree: Buyable Pins Are Driving New Customer Acquisition

Three months after launch, Pinterest and some merchants say about 90% of those using the e-commerce feature are new customers.


Nearly three months after launching Buyable Pins, Pinterest is still keeping quiet about the product, but early returns from a number of merchants we spoke with are promising. And Pinterest was willing to tell us this week that Buyable Pins are bringing new customers on board.

“One of the things we are hearing is that people are getting a lot of new customers through this channel,” Pinterest’s head of commerce Michael Yamartino told Marketing Land in a telephone interview. “It’s not just people who were already going to buy this or who were already frequent shoppers at a store. So we are really helping businesses reach new customers. In a lot of cases, the data is showing that about 90 percent or more of the buyers are brand-new customers to the merchant.”

Pinterest launched Buyable Pins in June, giving US users the ability to buy stuff directly on Pinterest iOS apps. In the beginning, Pinterest said there were more than 30 million products available for purchase using the blue “Buy it” buttons.

Those products come from merchants large — Macy’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus — and smaller — companies working with e-commerce platforms Demandware and Shopify. Pinterest isn’t taking a cut from the transactions; it plans eventually to allow businesses to promote Buyable Pins to get them in front of more Pinterest users. Shopify says thousands of its merchants have turned on the feature. Demandware says Cole Haan, Gardeners, Kate Spade, Michaels, Joann Stores and Ethan Allen are among its first clients to activate it.

Today, Pinterest declines to share much more. Yamartino told us that businesses are excited about the feature, with more merchants and products being added daily. That by late August the feature had been rolled out to all US iOS users. That the company is still working on bringing Buyable Pins to users on the desktop and Android app. And to stay tuned for more improvements as the holiday season approaches.

Pinterest has long been seen as the social network with the most potential to cash in on e-commerce, mainly because, unlike Facebook and Twitter, people go there to search for and save things they want to do, visit or buy. Twitter and Facebook are working on commerce products of their own, testing Buy buttons that appear in people’s social streams and landing pages that serve as product catalogues. So it’s an era of experimentation, with the social platforms jockeying for position within an industry that pulls in $263 billion annually, according to the latest US government figures.

This week, we talked with several small business merchants who have activated Buyable Pins — all via the integration with Shopify — and they corroborated Pinterest’s claim that the feature is driving new customer acquisition. But beyond that, they were all optimistic that shoppable Pins have great potential.

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Heather Paul, co-owner of Spool No. 72, said Buyable Pins are definitely boosting sales. Eight weeks after activation of the feature, the clothing company is seeing 30 percent of its Pinterest-generated sales coming from Buyable Pins, she said.

“We saw results within the first week and we continue to make sizable gains each week,” Paul wrote in an email, adding that the company saw a 20 percent increase in sales over the summer of 2014, an improvement she attributes in large part to Buyable Pins. She confirmed that an overwhelming majority of those using Buyable Pins — 84 percent — are new customers to the company.


Daily Chic, another online apparel company, is experiencing similar results. “The summer season is a little slow anyway but I’m seeing about 30 percent growth from the Buyable Pins,” said founder and CEO Brooke Sands. “It’s also increasing the number of items people are buying, which is always good.”

Sands said Pinterest was already a big contributor to her bottom line, driving more than 7,000 unique visitors a day to the site. “I’ve come quite a long way for a business that I started out of my parents’ house,” Sands said.


Madesmith, an online marketplace for handmade goods, is also pleased after seeing Buyable Pins account for 7.1 percent of the site’s total orders from July to September. All of those orders were from new customers, said Nadia Rasul, Madesmith co-founder and marketing director.

Sales from Buyable Pins might have been higher if Madesmith hadn’t released fewer new products than it usually does this summer, Rasul said, but it’s still an encouraging beginning for a company that depends on Pinterest to drive half of its social media referral traffic, with half of its sales attributed to social media.

“And I think there’s a great potential for increasing sales as more and more people get comfortable with using the Buyable pins feature,” Rasul said. “Especially during the upcoming holiday season I can see it being a very useful tool for for small businesses like ours as well as for customers to discover unique products.”


Jake Kassan, co-founder and CEO of MVMT Watches, is similarly bullish about Buyable Pins, even though he says they have gotten off to a “slightly slow start” for his company. MVMT switched the feature on in the last several weeks, and Kassan declined to share specific early numbers. He’s confident that Buyable sales will pick up once customers grow more accustomed to the feature.

He bases that confidence partly on the fact that Pinterest is already MVMT’s most effective social channel. The company invests heavily in paid social and search promotion, and Pinterest’s conversion rate of 1.1 percent beats Facebook (0.85 percent) and Twitter (about 0.5 percent). Kassan said the site gets 50,000 visits a month from Pinterest, 47,000 of them new users. Facebook, with its massive reach and better targeting, brings more traffic to the site, but Kassan said he’s encouraged by improvements Pinterest is making to its ad products and targeting.

MVMT is also using one of Facebook’s social commerce features, a Shop section on its Facebook page. That feature, also enabled by Shopify, gives people the ability to make purchases without leaving Facebook. Kassan said results on the Facebook Shop section have been spotty. He expects that Pinterest users will take to buying at a higher rate than people on Facebook. “People go on Pinterest to buy and to shop,” he said. “For Facebook I don’t know that that’s really the case.”

Kassan added that consumers are still adjusting to these new purchasing experiences. “It’s not going to happen overnight, people need to feel comfortable, they need to be educated,” he said. “No matter what platform does it, there’s kind of a learning curve where people have to figure this out.”

(Some images used under license from


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