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, 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.

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