It’s back to school time. What does that mean? New clothes! While school supplies are the must-haves, new school clothes are the got-to-haves, and that drives families to stores in search of the latest and greatest at the best prices. Sure there are catalogs and ads in abundance showing up in mailboxes across America, but research shows that mom’s are more tuned into sites like Pinterest for inspiration. According to Nielsen Wire 61% of moms are more likely to visit Pinterest than the average American http://bit.ly/NSWj7P. iQuarious Media also notes that 83% of US Pinterest users are women and fashion is one of the top audience interests http://bit.ly/PkiVhQ. Clearly this is the venue to reach mom’s at back-to-school time. Mom’s like to have a game plan and most would rather avoid the crowds. Enter Pinterest. Not only is it a source of inspiration but it’s becoming the new catalog and a destination for online shopping.
As users catalog their own fashion interests, it’s only natural that stores should do so too. Pinterest provides users with a list of “best practices” for creating catalogs and gives Target as an example of a store that utilizes catalogs on Pinterest http://bit.ly/OeHAF3. Time to compare their tips in the context of how Target does things.
1) Pinterest’s first catalog tip is to use natural setting product photography, or to show a product used with other products to create more incentive to buy. I believe that gets too overwhelming and not all viewers may gravitate towards the combinations. Target uses stand-alone images mostly (it’s about the product after all) and this seems to work well. Especially since clicking on the image opens up a new window where that product can be purchased.
2) Thoughtful product descriptions are next on their list and Pinterest allows up to 500 characters for each image, recommending keeping it clear and simple, yet creative. Their example of a company with thoughtful product descriptions is J Peterman Company. Looking at that company’s product descriptions I have to disagree. Their descriptions start out with a cute fictitious story or situation and end with basic product details. I find this rather long-winded. Instead, Target keeps it short, simple and snappy. A much better example.
3) Consistency is their next tip, pinning images that make the “who you are” message clear to your customer. Pinterest goes on to say that one way to do this is by putting your logo in the background. I disagree with this because I think it looks cheesy and unprofessional. Target images on Pinterest all have blank white backgrounds. This not only looks better, it puts the focus where it needs to be: on the product.
4) Most importantly, its last tip is categorization or organizing your product presentation. Once again Target does a great job of this. They have 11 pinboards and only two are company-geared, the rest focus on products with categories like Back to College, Target Baby, Target Home, Target Style, The Shops at Target, Living a Healthy Lifestyle, Food for Thought, Big Honkin’ Summer and Kids These Days. Catchy titles, a variety of categories, lots of products, and direct purchase links. Overall, a great presentation.
Perhaps the only problem with Pinterest catalogs like this one is that they are brand-based. Ki Mae Heussner, in discussing other apps that function like Pinterest (but more mobile-based), mentions that brand-generated content can be a turnoff because it detracts from Pinterest’s user-generated allure http://bit.ly/PexWGg. Meaning customers might be less likely to buy. Although there’re pitfalls with user-generated content too, in that a brand adding content is a better guarantee that an item is available. A brand can also remove content that’s no longer available and link item pictures to the point of purchase on their website with one click. Bizrate Insights notes that 1 in 4 people have made a purchase based off images on the site http://bit.ly/OeHQ7h. Among the reasons for not buying? Didn’t take me to retailer site, couldn’t find item, and didn’t take the time to look for the item. Hence the importance of making it convenient and that’s something a brand has the advantage of doing. Pinterest as a catalog has a lot to offer. A brand that strikes the right balance, and makes shopping convenient, stands the best chance at proving Pinterest really is “The New Catalog” and will secure its place in the virtual commerce space.