Since the start of the pandemic, we have shopped more but have we shopped better? There is a difference between online shopping and just online buying. Online purchasing has grown by 48% during the pandemic but many people have been left unsatisfied with the experience. We’ve missed the fun, spontaneity and face-to-face contact of the high street.
Milka Kramer, UK and Ireland manager for Pinterest, believes shopping has “lost some of its charm and imagination”. She wants to harness the best of online and offline with Pinterest being a “positive corner of the internet” where people come to “get inspired”.
“The 475 million people around the world who use Pinterest every month, are coming to the platform to be inspired and they are looking for brands to bring those ideas to them,” says Kramer. “In the last year, the number of users that have engaged with shopping services has more than tripled – people on Pinterest are three times more likely to say they are ‘always shopping’ compared to users on other platforms and spend 40% more a month versus some of our competitors.”
Shopping is ripe for a shake-up, whether that be augmented reality for virtual trying-on or physical spaces that offer an immersive experience rather than “just selling me stuff”, according to retail and brand advisor and author, Mary Portas, who was speaking at Shopportunities, an event run by Campaign and Pinterest about the future of shopping.
The rise of the conscientious shopper
According to Portas, 70% of consumers are prepared to pay a premium for environmentally responsible brands. “There’s a real shift and especially for Gen Z, 63% of whom are more likely to buy from a company that can contribute to a social cause,” she added. “On the one hand, we’re seeing the rise of fast fashion – but we’ve also seen the rise of a much more conscientious shopper.”
Kramer agreed: “We’ve seen people on Pinterest really look for that change in behaviour. It feels like the era of excessive consumption is coming to an end. There’s such a heightened awareness of where things come from.”
Connection and community
That social awareness means it is increasingly important for brands to think about the environment in which their ads appear: 80% of Pinterest users say they come to the platform to feel positive, compared to 30% on other platforms. “The trust and authentic connection you build with your customers is super important,” said Kramer.
Portas believes that brands need to think, not of customers, but of followers. She explained: “Businesses should be looking at how to connect to the way people are feeling. The ones that are winning are those that have created communities of followers. I call it the kindness economy: brands that connect more deeply – like wellbeing and homeware brands – are doing well. They’re looking at how we live and how we connect to our space.”
Portas also praised the Co-op for its initiative where its delivery drivers wear “I’ve time to chat” badges. “How adorable is that?” she said.
Let’s get physical
“Our research shows that 50% of people still prefer to shop offline,” said Kramer. Shopping online is fine if you know what you want, but less appealing or satisfying if you don’t. “This is where we think Pinterest comes in, bringing the best of both worlds,” added Kramer. “There is a serendipity of advertising – when you discover something that you didn’t know existed.”
The decline of the high street and the physical shopping experience is nothing new. And while Portas doesn’t expect a great reversal, she senses a craving for the physical shopping experience. “We might see less but it’ll be better physical retail. I was talking to the new Dragon on Dragons’ Den [28-year-old Steven Bartlett] and he said that people of his generation do everything online, so they actually want some physical experiences in a retail space,” she said.
The rise of showrooming (such as IKEA) or ‘inspiration destinations’ (Microsoft), which lead purchases online rather than necessarily in-store, are trends to look out for.
“We’ll see a much more sophisticated physical space,” said Portas. “I want great music, great service to stop and have a coffee. The great physical retailers understand this power of their people and community. I was in New York and there was Macy’s in a terrible situation, just floor after floor of stuff. Yet people were queuing outside Supreme, the skateboarding brand, which had people skating inside.”
Do brands even need a physical presence? Not for the sake of it, believes Portas. “You need to know why you’re doing it,” she said. “I think we're going to see much more creativity in physical retail.
“There’s a rise in local. I’m working with brands that would have shut down in smaller towns and now they’re looking to reinvigorate the space locally. If you’re a local brand or one that has a good local community following, you should be looking at a physical space. Human knowledge is vital – we don’t want sales assistants but ambassadors for the brand who really know their products. Specialism, people, connection, community.”
The internet has removed many barriers to entry for brands. “In the past, high streets used to be controlled by big stores and brands,” said Kramer. “Now, the digital space has been democratised for small brands. When you come on to Pinterest, you will have a catalogue that is personal to you and in there you’ll find big, well-known brands but also a small brand that you’ve never heard of before that you can take inspiration from.”
People, planet, profit
Those are Portas’ three watchwords for the future of shopping. “Look at people first, not profit – profit will come,” she said. “We used to talk about high-brow and low-brow. Now there’s no-brow: great no-brow retailers put people first.”
Kramer agreed, adding: “It’s about empathy coupled with positivity. The best ads and marketing show people what’s possible.”
How brands can set up shop on Pinterest
Pinterest champions “conscious shopping” where people take time to explore options. “We’re not building a place to transact, we’re creating a place to inspire,” said Jen Ronan, Pinterest’s international ads product marketing lead.
Ideas on Pinterest are represented by a Pin, which users can search for and save. Brands can drive traffic and convert to sales by linking these Pins to their online store or company website.
On Pinterest, 97% of searches are unbranded, while the number of users that have engaged with shopping services has more than tripled. With 500m people ‘pinning’ every month.
Here’s a short how-to guide...
Install a Pinterest tag to set up your shopping campaign and measure performance. The Pinterest tag is a piece of code that you put on your website to track conversions from your Pinterest ads, or your organic shopping pins, and measure results like return on ad spend.
Set up event tracking for visibility into the types of conversions your campaign is driving.
Set up advanced match for increased accuracy and tracking across devices. Tags that are set up correctly generate a 35% increase on return on ad spend.
Catalogues interface allows you to upload your product feed, data source or catalogue onto Pinterest in just a few clicks.
Partnership with Shopify enables businesses that use their platform to tap into Pinterest’s shopping ecosystem, and load their catalogues in just a few clicks.
The recently launched verified merchant programme helps shoppers ensure they’re buying from trusted brands. You'll also get access to enhanced product distribution, which can result in up to 14% more clicks within shopping experiences on Pinterest.
Collections ads integrate with catalogues and allow you to showcase adjacent products, just like you would in a physical store.