2013.36 | leveraging pinterest in store


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.

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.

pinterest-jcrew-sept-style-guideOur 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.
  • deartopshopWhen 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.

2009.03 | Clay Shirky | Department Stores | Social Web

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations – I recently listened to a fascinating interview with the author Clay Shirky on CBC’s Spark Podcast. I read the book this week. It provides a great explanation through examples of how the digital and real worlds are blurring and how the internet and communications technologies are constantly evolving as people use them differently. These changes impact our behaviour as a society and will certainly impact how people interface with customer facing organizations.

Department Stores – This segment continue to suffer. Rethinking the model is a challenge, but something needs to be done. Are there opportunities for technology solutions? Certainly, but they need to work in close alignment with the new strategies these organizations are leveraging – be it additional customer service, upscale offerings, multi-channel solutions or others.

Scoring a Pizza Delivery Via Facebook – Social networking sites have been lighting up the news for some time, but more and more opportunities are being taken to sell in these places where so many people congregate. An increasing number of retailers are trying to understand how they can tap the demographic on Facebook, Tivo, and on their mobiles to sell more to these customers without them leaving their favourite touchpoint.

2009.01 | Shopping Science | Hema | Mobile Shopping

Welcome to the initiation of the Retail Techology Trends Blog.  My plan is to share a number of articles related to various items of interest; generally retail and self-service, but they may be about current trends, new ideas, or just intriguing articles that relate to the world of consumer interaction.

The Science of Shopping – The Way the Brain Buys– The Economist – This article discusses a number of ideas I’ve mentioned to many colleagues and customers in the past. Selling with other senses, using video, RFID you name it.   This document provides a great basis for discussions of new retail ideas.

Hema – This is a Netherlands based department store website. Click on this site, and leave it up for a while, and watch what happens. Retailers are constantly looking for a way to make themselves stand out. Here is an example.

Stores Clueless about Mobile Barcode Scanning Apps – iPhone has Snaptell, Google Android has ShopSavvy – two apps that you can use to price check across banners for the best price. They are in their infancy, but retailers need to catch up with these new mobile opportunities.

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