At this point, everyone in retail is aware that social media is a key selling tool for retailers; not just a novelty. From a specialty and department store retailer perspective, Pinterest is of particular value. Pinterest provides a focused window into the taste and style choices of users in a way that no other social platform does. While Facebook, Twitter and others are about sharing your life and relationships, Pinterest is all about lists of favourite things that is easily separated from the minutia of life details. It’s built for shopping. That focus appears to be translating into sales for retailers, as statistics show that Pinterest’s role in driving sales is growing compared to the other social media platforms.
The challenge for retailers is to take that data and translate it into sales across their enterprise through every channel possible.
Big players are taking notice and using Pinterest in some unique ways:
- Nordstrom physically tagged their most tagged items on Pinterest. Understanding customer popularity enables them to highlight the most popular online items in their stores.
- JCrew released their September style guide to Pinterest followers BEFORE sending it to their catalog subscribers. This enabled a more interactive experience than a catalog at what must have been very little incremental production cost. The set even has contact information to connect for advice on assembling a look.
- Topshop recently released a Pinterest leveraging site that provides users a personalized gift guide.
While there is great potential around eCommerce sales in establishing a retailer Pinterest account, obtaining followers, and getting a feel for your client bases likes, there is also rich data available about clients that goes beyond a single retailer brand that can also be used in many different ways across the retailer enterprise. Some examples of data use include:
- Obtain insight directly from your clients and potential clients on product interest and taste – no need for data mining
- Gain vision on products your clients favour from other retailers and sources
- Highlight opportunities for product sale / bundle / offer opportunities
- Review a perceived neutral location for client opinion
- Opportunity for differentiation on customer experience
- Directly connect current and potential clients with the items they want both online and in store.
The direct connection of clients with items they may wish to purchase is a very powerful one.
Our personalities go deeply into what we wish to purchase and our underlying satisfaction with our selections. When we visit stores, with only a few minutes onsite, we can only provide store associates the briefest glimpses of our personality to decide what the best match for a product may be. What if instead of analyzing our appearance, a few minutes of discussion and products we favour, the store associate scan through pages of items we select that represent our personal style, our interests and how we live our lives?
As a data feed available online, Pinterest can provide that window into the preferences of clients. With the right associates and the right tools, this view into a client’s personality can be used to drive more sales in stores by showing consumers items that will most interest them based on their tastes.
How to proceed in store? Here are some high level thoughts:
- Obtain permission from clients to connect their Pinterest accounts to their loyalty accounts in your enterprise customer database. Always ask for permission to use their data and explain what the data will be used for. Always make it optional to share. If you change your use, highlight it to them. Offer them something in return for this information (offer, points, etc.) The sharing of information must be mutually beneficial. This sharing must be customer choice and respect their privacy.
- Leverage a tablet based clienteling solution to provide access to trusted in store client advisors to provide them with client style preferences from your collections and from other sources. Train them to make recommendations on current store inventory based on cues from client Pinterest accounts. Train them to be sensitive to the fact that clients are sharing their data client benefit and that it must be respected and clients must feel that their privacy is kept at the level they wish to keep it.
- When the program begins, have the staff explain what the clienteling app does and what it is for. If clients do not wish to take part, immediately flag them to not be approached again. Enable the tablets to identify clients by as many identification methods as possible – phone, email, client id, or whatever is available. Let the client choose.
- Analyze data from clients that agree to share, and leverage data on other brands preferred by clients for competitive and alliance partnerships. (Apparel sellers could partner with shoe or accessory seller)
- Train sales staff to sell against or complement competitive items within a client Pinterest list.
Connecting Pinterest data to other cross channel information such as customer populated sizes and preferences, website wishlists, purchase history and more on a tablet provide comprehensive picture of the client that can enable truly amazing customer experiences. While Pinterest isn’t the central feature of an in store tablet based clienteling solution, it can certainly add some unique value and is worthy of consideration.