April 25, 2012, 12:07 PM

Pinterest leads to sales

Nearly 1/3 online shoppers have made purchases from what they’ve seen on Pinterest.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Pinterest isn’t just one of the fastest-growing social networks around. It is also driving shoppers to make purchases.

32% of online shoppers have made a purchase based on what they’ve seen on Pinterest and other image-sharing sites, according to a new survey from Bizrate Insights.  These sites focus primarily on enabling consumers to select images and other content from the web, rather than posting original content as shoppers often do on sites like Facebook or Twitter. While Pinterest is the dominant image-sharing site, with 18.2 million unique visitors in March, according to web traffic measurement firm Compete.com, other sites in the category include Polyvore (which had 2.2 million unique visitors in March) and Juxtapost (13,340 unique visitors in March).

The report also found 37% of consumers have seen on image-sharing sites items they want to buy but have not. Bizrate’s report is based on a survey of 3,741 online shoppers conducted in late March. The report gave no similar data for Facebook or other social networks.

“Pinterest is made for visual browsing and finding things you like, whether those are ideas or products, and tracking them down to buy them,” says Chad White, research director at marketing services provider Responsys, which recently studied how large retailers are promoting their activities on Pinterest.

The percentage of large retailers highlighting Pinterest in their marketing e-mail has grown from a mere handful a few months ago to 24% in March, according to a report from Responsys, which tracks the activities of a mix of more than 100 bricks-and-mortar and web-only retailers such as 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., No. 45 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, Dell (No. 4) and Road Runner Sports Inc. (No. 209) on its Retail Email Blog.

Because Pinterest launched less than two years ago, retailers are weaving Pinterest into their marketing e-mail much faster than they did Facebook or Twitter, says White. “Pinterest will likely overtake YouTube as the No. 3 social network promoted in retailers’ e-mails over the next month,” he says.

88% of retailers include Facebook links in their e-mails, while 74% include Twitter links and 26% YouTube links.

Brian Kalma, chief experience officer at custom jewelry retailer Gemvara.com will speak this June at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago in a session titled "Interest in Pinterest: How the social site drives retail traffic."

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