August 21, 2015Published by: Joe Cant

Is now the time to capitalise on shopping through social media?


Earlier this week, former Twitter brand advertising head Nipoon Malhotra joined Pinterest to help the company with its plans to monetise the platform. This news came shortly after both Pinterest and Instagram announced ‘buy’ buttons - direct mechanisms through which a user can shop for visual on-display content through the social networks.

Twitter’s new Collections, or ‘shop window’ - is another example of this trend. Providing a facility through which users can buy items via mobile devices, or click through to an item-in-basket page. For an example, British heritage brand Barbour has been reported as being the first to host this service.

Pinterest, although a great research and design inspiration feed, is a social network full of beautiful content that, until recently, didn’t provide retail options. Having proven itself to be a great place for style inspiration, it’s possible that the ‘buy’ button could see Pinterest become an extremely valuable online shopping platform.

It’s easy to imagine users want to use Instagram for its original purpose - to post creative and relevant images and to browse their friends’ profiles to do the same. Do people really want to purchase through social? There are already enough websites on which a user can go to purchase items. Apps like prove that the user doesn’t have to be hassled into buying an item, but will receive a direct link to purchase after the user likes an Instagram post. This may ensure a genuine purchase process, possibly enabling the user to browse freely without interruption.

Timing couldn’t be better for Pinterest and Instagram; not only developing their apps and websites with a mechanism linking purchases through social media, but also e-commerce behemoth Amazon has recently taken a big hit, following a New York Times article about employees “being evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover in Amazon’s intense and fast-paced workplace”. The moment to react, grow and become leaders in the online retail market could well be now. Both Instagram and Pinterest already have the user base and the data - but can they capitalise on this PR slip-up from Amazon?

Overall this trend adds ease of use to the online shopping experience, whilst providing a platform to act as a bridge between items they like and the opportunity to shop for those items online - so long as it isn’t forced into the user’s face.

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