New API opens up a very Pinterest-ing opportunity for retailers

Posted: Monday 9th December 2013 in eCommerce Technology, Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.
New Pinterest API may create new opportunities for retailers

Pinterest API could create new opportunities for retailers

Pinterest has released an API that opens up a great opportunity for retailers to take advantage of the social platform’s capabilities of increasing both online AND offline conversions.

Retailers have been trying to find an effective way to harness this social channel ever since its launch (as of September 2013, Pinterest’s 70m users drive more traffic than the combination of Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+). Most had been limited to promoting their Pinterest boards onsite, through Pinterest-centric competitions etc., and using their Pinterest pages to push users towards their eCommerce sites.

The API was launched with 20 partners, including large US retailers Walmart and Zappos, and will allow retailers to show ‘most pinned’ items on their sites using real-time Pinterest data. The details of the API will be released publicly to all interested developers soon, meaning that this functionality will be available to all. The release of the API demonstrates that Pinterest is a platform that will likely have longevity, and this move extends and improves its ability to be a strong driver of referral traffic.

What are the other benefits?

An improvement in conversion rate may not be the only positive outcome from this, as Pinterest has been shown to drive sales in-store through what has been termed “reverse-showrooming” (users discover products online only to then go into a physical store to purchase).

Some retailers in recent times have taken to adopting Pinterest-like features and functionality on their sites – demonstrated by eBay’s homepage redesign – as the platform becomes more popular. These features include ‘infinite scroll’ (removing pagination from long lists of products, and allowing users to continuously scroll down the page to reveal more and more results), as well as a tile-based approach to displaying products so they are not simply displayed in a standard grid. However, the release of the new API has led to a number of new ways in which retailers are able to incorporate Pinterest into their own site.

The tool itself allows for 4 types of Pinterest information to be gathered and displayed on sites:

• Top Pins – shows most-clicked and top re-pins
• Domain Search – allows developers to find trending results for specific keywords
• Most Recent – as the name suggests, this allows for a stream of the latest pins to your site, so visitors can see what’s been pinned
• Related Pins – shows what other pins people may like, based on your previous Pinterest pins

What should a retailer do to make the most of this opportunity?

Social Proof is already a well-known aide to conversion, and there’s a number of ways in which retailers can take advantage of this new tool to improve the customer experience of their sites as well as engagement with the ability of creating more interactive areas (both of which, in turn, can help to improve conversion rates):

• Having Top Pinned products as a live feed on site will further help to convince buyers who aren’t 100% certain if they should buy a product or not
• Pinned products can be returned on Search Results pages to enhance the user’s results
• Having areas where key/customer themes could be showcased
• Users will be able to pin favoured items directly without leaving to go to the main Pinterest site
• Pins could be embedded within targeted emails to deliver related content to subscribers
• There may be an opportunity in the future to monetise other people’s pins through affiliate marketing

All in all, this seems like an exciting development (or at least a very Pinteresting one…) that further bridges the gap between social and commerce. While not being a complete game-changer in eCommerce, it can certainly become a standard piece of functionality/integration that large retailers choose to integrate on their site.

Further reading


Summit have been designing and building beautiful and effective eCommerce websites since 2006. If you have questions about design or UX then please contact Will Garbutt, Senior UX Manager, or if you’d like us to help you design and build an eCommerce site with real impact then please contact Chris Dickson, Client Director, on 0203 428 5300.