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Pinterest Adds Buyable Pin to Boost Sales for Brands and Retailers

Brands and retailers that pooh-poohed Pinterest’s e-commerce and sales potential are scrambling to set up accounts after the San Francisco-based social media scrapbook site announced Tuesday that it plans to introduce “buyable pins” in the coming weeks.

More than two million products from the likes of Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Cole Haan and Kate Spade will be instantly shoppable on iPhones and iPads in the U.S. by the end of the month, Pinterest said. Future releases will see the buy button roll out to Android and desktop users.

It’s not just big-box retailers that can use the social network to turn pins into purchases: The 5-year-old company teamed with e-commerce platforms Demandware and Shopify to make it easier for small- and medium-sized businesses to sell products through the site, too. Oh, and Pinterest isn’t taking a cut of sales. Instead it will make money selling shoppable “promoted pins,” or ads.

So how does it work? Users can shop by tapping pinned products tagged with a blue “Buy It” to see the price and select a color, size and quantity. Then, when they’re ready to check out, they tap the buy button to pay with Apple Pay or a credit card, and payments will be powered by start-up processor Stripe and Paypal’s Braintree.

“And when you pay with Apply Pay, it uses a device specific account number instead of your actual credit card number, so neither your device nor Apple Pay will send your actual card number to the seller,” Pinterest engineering manager, Chao Wang, noted in a blog post on the site.

“Consumers are increasingly empowered through mobile and social channels and it’s critical that retailers engage with them on their own turf. Enabling commerce within Pinterest allows our clients to drive conversion at this important step of the shopping journey,” Demandware CEO Tom Ebling said in a press release after the announcement.

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has racked up more than 70 million monthly active users and, according to Pew Research, is the third most popular social network in the U.S. Plus, Millward Brown said 93 percent of active “pinners” use Pinterest to plan for purchases, while 87 percent have bought something because of the site.

These statistics bode well for Pinterest, which in March became one of the most highly valued start-ups by raising $367 million, giving it a valuation of $11 billion.

But it’s not the only social network to allow users to purchase products with one click. Photo-sharing app Instagram, which boasts more than 300 million users, revealed Tuesday that it would begin adding buy buttons to its ads, and Facebook and Twitter began piloting something similar last year. Google, meanwhile, plans to allow mobile users to purchase products that pop up in sponsored search results.

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