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Zappos taps Pinterest to boost sales, but its efforts fail

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Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos, which is owned by Amazon (s AMZN), has added a new feature called “PinPointing” that offers recommendations based on Pinterest accounts. The move is just one more way a retailer is trying to boost sales by using social data to deliver shoppers better recommendations. However, even though Pinterest is hot right now, Zappos says that Twitter posts still drive the most sales by far.

Bloomberg reports:

Zappos users were 13 times more likely to share a purchase on Pinterest than on Twitter and 8 times more likely to share on Facebook than Twitter, [Zappos Labs director Will] Young said. Even so, posts on Twitter brought in the most revenue — an average of $33.66 an order — while Facebook posts garnered $2.08 per order and sales from Pinterest were 75 cents on average, he said.

If you liked this dress, you’ll love…this tie?

PinPointing aims to convert Pinterest posts into sales. Type in a Pinterest username (it can be yours or someone else’s) and the site pulls up Zappos items recommendations based on the account.

The feature doesn’t work very well yet. Here are a few examples:


The feature works better if you’ve pinned something from a brand that Zappos already sells. For example, I’d pinned a pair of Superga sneakers and PinPointing pulled up four other pairs by the same brand. The hard part is pulling up brands I wouldn’t have discovered on my own, but that I’d like — and PinPointing isn’t doing that yet. If I’ve pinned a colorblock dress, for instance, Zappos should pull up similar-looking dresses, not clunky shoes. And I don’t see the connection between a garbage can and a tie-dyed backpack.

The data and algorithms to deliver better recommendations are already out there. In building this feature, Zappos should use them.

4 Responses to “Zappos taps Pinterest to boost sales, but its efforts fail”

  1. Julius Mariano

    Pinpointing is a great commercial platform. I used it actually but since I don’t use Pinterest that much, I seldom get to discover its features and see which function should be included in the device. Zappos and social gifting sites like Jifiti,Treater, and Wrapp among others are great vehicle to drive sales to retailers. The feature Zappos would want to pt in Pinpointing may not be working today but it could in the future with proper push.

  2. It would seem that one of the most salient points about Pinterest is lost on Zappos — it’s the pictures, stupid.

    Images on the Zappos site couldn’t possibly be more boring or uninspiring. That’s half of the battle with pinning: the image itself has to be worth pinning. Spend some more money on photography, and I think you’ll see the impact.

  3. Kevin Bauer

    Very interesting. Social commerce is really hard, despite what most think. This is a great example. You need to have enough content and data and your users need to be connected to a large enough chunk of the social graph, to create that content. Trying to hack (meant in a good way, not a bad way) a recommendation engine together via disparate social channels may not be the best way forward. There’s a reason companies exist that do this kind of work.

    I think a bigger issues for retailers is how to extend their brand and create a truly social experience within their brand. We see lots of examples of this being successful for companies who from their inception are built around this principle (Fab would be just one example), but it is really hard to retrofit a current business and platform to make it inherently social.

    Still, Kudos to Zappos for this effort. It is great to watch innovation, even if it doesn’t always work as intended.

  4. mediayogi

    Well, PinPointing is a good start but
    1. The fact that I’ve to enter a users name to come up with ideas / recommendations is a stretch for most users. Why would I enter another person’s name unless I’m specfically looking for a present for that person. And why would I enter my own name?

    2. Pinterest images are aspirational in nature. e.g. Folks enter beautiful images of bracelets and they get matched with cheap trincklets. That’s a let down. People are looking to purchase what they see, not a downgraded products.

    3. The product is missing a key linkage to user’s social conversation. Why would I use PinPointing? The need could be gifting. If so, the product needs to marry the need for social gifting to the output (pinpointing). E.g. a social calendar automatically created using the FB profile and conversations, brings up ideas for gifts. The app then mines user’s friends Pinterest page to come up products they might like as a gift. Such a scenario will be very powerful and strong value prop for the user.