May 24, 2013, 11:09 AM

Pinterest helps consumers discover Wal-Mart products

The retailer says the social network’s new “product pins” are helping it attract shoppers.

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Pinterest this week rolled out “product pins’” that show users more information about the items for sale that shoppers “pin” in the network, such as where they can buy a product, its price and availability.

Pinterest allows consumers to pin and share products and images from around the web. Consumers then add their pins to boards, which are organizational tools used to group pins together around a particular theme—for example “Garden tools.”

The new functionality is already producing results for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., according to Robert Yau, director of product management at the retailer’s e-commerce research and technology arm @WalmartLabs.

“We’ve heard some amazing feedback from our users so far about their discoveries,” Yau writes in a @WalmartLabs blog post. “Comments like ‘I never knew Walmart sold that’ or ‘I discovered this product was much less expensive than I realized’ demonstrated the power of the crowd and the thrill of discovery shopping.”

Wal-Mart is increasingly focusing on exploiting the power of social networks to help shoppers discover and buy Wal-Mart products.  The retailer earlier this month launched a redesigned web site that shows shoppers products that are trending on social networks.

“When we launched a new design for Walmart.com earlier this month, we unveiled a new ‘Trending’ tab that provides a dynamic snapshot of Walmart.com products that are currently trending based on recent pins from Pinterest,” Yau writes. “We’re excited to continue leveraging these better product pins to inspire our shoppers and direct qualified traffic to Walmart.com.”

Pinterest worked with several online retailers to ensure a number of prominent e-commerce sites featured product pins at the launch of the new service. Those sites include Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, The Home Depot Inc., No. 46, ModCloth Inc., No. 366, and Target Corp., No. 18.

The social network also rolled out “movie pins” that include ratings and cast information from films pinned from Netflix Inc., No. 9 in the Top 500 Guide, as well as a handful of other movie information sites. And “recipe pins” detail the blogs and web sites from which a recipe was pinned, along with the cook time, ingredients and serving size. More category-specific pins are likely to come, wrote Anna Majkowska, a Pinterest software engineer, in a blog post.

Pinterest can gather the information included in product pins if a retailer uses a Pinterest business account, applies on Pinterest’s developer page to use product pins and then adds a specific type of metatag to its site. A metatag is an HTML tag that gives web crawlers, like search engines, information about a web page.

Pinterest says it wants to make pins more useful. Even before the rollout, the social network was driving significant, valuable traffic to retailers’ sites, according to a recent report about consumers’ online shopping activities in the first quarter, Monetate Inc.’s “Ecommerce Quarterly.” The report found that the average order values for shoppers coming to e-commerce sites from Pinterest was $80.54 per order in the first quarter. That’s more than Facebook, which garnered an average order value of $71.26, and Twitter, with $70.17.  

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