E-commerce is increasingly less about a retailer’s site or apps and more about enabling shoppers to buy wherever and however they choose. The latest sign of that shift is Pinterest and Instagram today rolling out new tools that let e-retailers drive sales directly from their platforms.
Pinterest today announced that in the next few weeks it will introduce “buyable” pins that let users purchase a retailer’s products directly within a pin. Among the roughly 2 million buyable pins Pinterest will feature at launch include products from large multichannel retailers such as Macy’s Inc., Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Inc., Demandware-powered retailers including Cole Haan, as well as “thousands” of Shopify stores like Poler Outdoor Stuff and SOBU, writes Chao Wang, Pinterest engineering manager, in a blog post.
Pinterest plans to roll out buyable pins to iOS users by the end of the month. It will expand buyable pins to Android users and those viewing Pinterest on a desktop in the near future.
These pins will feature a blue Buy It button that, when clicked, lets a shopper swipe through size and color options. Once she’s ready to buy she can pay with Apple Pay or a credit card. The consumer only needs to enter her personal information once because Pinterest will store it so she doesn’t have to re-enter it for future purchases.
In the interest of security, Pinterest says it won’t store consumers’ credit card information itself. “The fewer people who have access your credit card information, the better—and that includes us,” Pinterest said on its blog. “That’s why we won’t store your credit card info ourselves. Instead, we’re working with payment processors who’ve been protecting people’s information for years. And when you pay with Apple Pay, it uses a device-specific account number instead of your actual credit card number, so neither your device nor Apple Pay will send your actual card number to the seller.”
Instagram also today announced the launch of “action-oriented” ads that brands can use to drive consumers to take actions directly from an Instagram ad, including a Buy button that drives shoppers to a retailer’s e-commerce site, a mobile app download ad and a Sign Up ad that encourages consumers to sign up for a website or service. The social network will begin testing some of those direct-response ad formats in the next few days.
“Advertisers want to drive business results across a variety of objectives—from awareness and message association to website visits and offline sales—and our ad formats will evolve to serve all those goals,” Instagram writes in a blog post. “This will not only help advertisers, but the community as well, as people will be able to learn about a product or service and then take action directly from an ad to sign up on a website, buy a product or download an app.”
Instagram is leaning on its parent company, Facebook Inc., to expand its ad-targeting tools. Working with Facebook it plans to let marketers reach shoppers based on their demographics and interests, as well as information businesses have about their own customers. Facebook offers similar functionality with its Custom Audience tool that lets advertisers target customers based on information shoppers have shared with the marketer off of Facebook, such as their email addresses and phone numbers.
Better targeting should produce more effective ad campaigns, Instagram writes. “People come to Instagram to follow their passions, from travel and fashion to cars and entertainment,” the blog post says. “They want to see ads that reflect the things they care about.”
Finally, Instagram says it plans to introduce new ad-buying tools to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to buy ads on its platform.
“There are more than 2 million advertisers who actively use Facebook to market their business and we want to leverage the best of Facebook’s infrastructure for buying, managing and measuring the success of ads on Instagram,” the social network says. It plans to roll out an Instagram Ads API, or application program interface, which lets vendors and agencies directly connect to its ad-buying platform.