July 9, 2014, 4:30 PM

A Pinterest tweak could give e-retailers an advantage

Consumers using the Pinterest Follow button could stay on retailers’ sites for longer periods of time.

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Pinterest this week released a coding tweak designed to keep consumers on retailers’ sites longer even when they are seeking products “pinned” to the image-focused social network.

Pinterest allows consumers to share favorite products by pinning images from around the web, creating an online collection of pictures. The social network has more than 30 billion “pins.” Brands and retailers, meanwhile, install buttons enabling consumers to follow merchants on Pinterest.

An update of the Pinterest Follow button enables consumers to see a pop-up box on the retailer’s site instead of leaving the retailer’s web site to go to that retailer’s Pinterest page.

“The new Follow button will pop up a small dialog with a preview of your account’s latest pins—and your visitors won’t ever have to leave your web site to follow you,” Pinterest product manager Jason Costa explains to retailers in a blog post this week. “It’s easy to add this button to your site. It’s just a couple of lines of code, which you can copy and paste onto your pages in a matter of minutes. If you have the original Follow button in place, you won’t have to do anything to get the new version—it’ll just work.”

The move could impact a significant number of retailers, given that 85% of the merchants in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide are active on the social network, up from 78% a year earlier.  

The Pinterest addition follows the launch in April of a mobile-focused search engine called Guided Search. The social network designed the feature to help users discover pins by presenting them with related categories, which Pinterest calls “guides,” that enable them to home in on what they’re looking for. For instance, if a user searches for plants, Pinterest might show that user guides such as “indoors,” “shade,” “succulents,” to help her find items of interest.

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