Observers—ReadWrite included—have long expected Pinterest to get into the e-commerce business directly, instead of just driving traffic to retailers’ websites.
At an event at Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco, CEO Ben Silbermann revealed that blue “Buy It” buttons would soon appear on the site, next to the site’s familiar red “Pin It” buttons.
This wasn’t a surprise to me—because minutes before his announcement, I happened to read a copy of a speaker’s script left lying on the floor before an event staffer whisked it away.
The Buy Button Is Here
Pinterest’s new product is called Buyable Pins, which builds on Pinterest’s existing Rich Pin features. Rich Pins allow websites to populate Web pages with details that Pinterest’s crawlers can easily read. When an item is marked up correctly with Rich Pin data, Pinterest will add information like price and discounts to a page that a Pinterest user creates when he or she pins it to a board.
The product will launch initially on Apple’s iOS devices in June, with other platforms supported “in the coming months,” said Silbermann.
Shopify appears to be a partner. That e-commerce site builder has already purchased Google ads against the term “Buyable Pins” which takes people to a page explaining how to sell items on Pinterest.
Sumeera Rasul, the founder of Madesmith, an e-commerce site, presented her use of Buyable Pins at the event. Madesmith is built on top of Shopify.
Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom are making items buyable on Pinterest at launch, among other retailers.
According to the script ReadWrite reviewed, Stripe is Pinterest’s payments processor. Silbermann said that Pinterest’s buy buttons would work with Apple Pay and other payment methods.
A Pinterest engineer, Wendy Lu, mentioned on stage at the event that Pinterest was working with both Stripe and Braintree so that Pinterest wouldn’t handle users’ credit card details directly.
Michael Yamartino, Pinterest’s product manager for commerce, said that merchants would choose whether to use Stripe or Braintree.
Organizing Around Shopping
The introduction of Buyable Pins isn’t a huge surprise. Tim Kendall, Pinterest’s head of partner products, revealed mockups of “buy buttons” at EmTech Digital, a conference in San Francisco produced by MIT Technology Review, on Monday. At the time, though, he said that the buttons were “coming soon.”
In a recent reorganization, Kendall, a veteran of Amazon and Facebook, was put in charge not just of e-commerce and advertising technology at Pinterest, but sales as well. Pinterest sales chief Joanne Bradford, a veteran of Microsoft and Yahoo, now reports to Kendall, according to a Pinterest spokesperson.
Pinterest is not charging merchants or consumers a fee when they buy through a Buyable Pin. Which raises the question: How will Pinterest make money?
Through “partners,” Bradford said in a question-and-answer session following the announcement. (Pinterest calls retailers and other advertisers “partners,” in a form of tech newspeak that probably doesn’t even strike Pinterest employees as pretentious, though it should.)
Pinterest charges these companies to promote pins referencing their wares to users, in a form of advertising. Advertisers will be more likely to spend if they believe it will lead to sales, which a product like Buyable Pins arguably should.