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Pinterest to transform mobile merchandising with big brand integrations

Walmart, Hearst and Target are among the first brands to take products and content with a lot of Pins on Pinterest and showcase them on their own Web sites and mobile applications.

Pins are moving beyond the Pinterest site now that the social network has made its first set of APIs available to marketers. The new API strategy will enable marketers to leverage social networking to enhance their digital merchandising and directly support product sales.

?Brands can now use social data to power visual merchandizing on their Web sites,? said Sharad Verma, CEO and founder of Piqora, San Mateo, CA. ?They can tap into Pinterest's vast taste graph and offer much more socially relevant and tasteful site recommendations on their Web site.

?This has the potential to disrupt 'People who like this also like this? and transform it to ?Here are similar top trending pinned products from Pinterest,?? he said.

?This is a very significant move for Pinterest and its ecosystem. Top Pins API can lead to Pinterest widgets on a large number of Web sites, dramatically increasing the brand awareness of Pinterest and amplifying Pinterest's user base.?

Curating visual content
The APIs can be used by marketers to show popular products from Pinterest on their own mobile app or to curate content such as articles. The Pins will regularly update, so customers always see the most current popular products.

For example, right now on the home page, consumers can see the most Pinned recipes for that day. They can also click through to see the featured recipes, Pin a recipe themselves or click to follow on Pinterest.

On the site, users can see the most Pinned shoes.

With a significant and growing percentage of social networking activity taking place via smartphones and tablets, mobile is likely to play a key role in marketers? strategies to leverage Pinterest?s new APIs.

Optimizing product pages
The ability to showcase popular items from Pinterest points to the need for marketers to make sure their product pages are optimized for mobile.

?Given that Pinterest's mobile user base and usage has grown by 50 percent this year - it is imperative that the product landing pages on retailer's Web sites are mobile optimized, so pinners can easily purchase products,? Mr. Verma said.

?A lot of retailers are beginning to get close to 50 percent traffic from mobile and are optimizing the experience for mobile devices,? he said. ?Mobile optimized product pages are a win win win for Pinterest, Pinners and retailers.?

Mobile social commerce
Pinterest is working on integrating its APIs with a number of marketers, many of whom already have a strong presence on the social network. The list includes Nestlé, Zappos,, Random House, Snapguide, Wayfair, Whole Foods and Zulily.

Pinterest?s popularity has grown significantly in the past 18 months based on how easily users can share pictures of the things they like.

The platform lies at the intersection of mobile, social and commerce and is also strongly aligned with marketers? needs, as much of the content being pinned is of favorite clothing and accessories, food items, home décor and other products.

Even before the API strategy, savvy marketers such as Sephora and Amazon have been embracing Pinterest, integrating the platform into their marketing efforts by encouraging consumers to pin their favorite products or to see what is trending on Pinterest.

Pinterest?s API strategy is the latest example of how mobile social commerce is picking up steam. For example, Twitter is making a big push into commerce, with Starbucks recently introducing the Tweet-a-Coffee program enabling loyalty customers to send a $5 coffee gift card to another Twitter user through a tweet (see story). 

In addition to APIs enabling marketers to surface the most popular pins on their sites, Pinterest plans to release additional APIs for top repins, most recent Pins, related Pins, most click-through Pins and Pins from specific search items.

?Pinterest has been a very relevant social network for ecommerce brands and retailers,? Mr. Verma said. ?This move solidifies its position as a bottom of the funnel network that has a strong potential to drive traffic and sales.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York