Small Guys Benefiting Most From Pinterest

Discussion
Jul 20, 2012

In the Darwinian world of retailing, it’s axiomatic that the big chains get bigger while the small guys, well, don’t. But new research shows that independents may have an early advantage in grabbing the attention of consumers on Pinterest.

According to new research from Bizrate Insights, nearly 20 percent of shoppers claim they made a purchase on the Etsy.com marketplace site after seeing an image on Pinterest. Branded stores (13 percent) and small boutiques (12 percent) were next.

"Our research among online buyers shows that image sharing sites have inspired purchases, a trend that will likely grow as more categories/images/brands/retailers become available," said Hayley Silver, vice president, Bizrate Insights, in a statement. "Smaller retailers appear to be leading the charge on sites such as Pinterest, as exemplified by their ability to ignite a passionate base of supporters to gain sales through grassroots efforts. Therefore it is not surprising that today these retailers are in the spotlight. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes as larger retail brands begin to emulate or improve upon customer engagement in the new medium."

Many are beginning to see the opportunities to drive sales through Pinterest.

Research earlier in the year by SteelHouse found that 59 percent of Pinterest users have made a purchase based on what they saw on the site versus 33 percent of Facebook users.

The 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study, a joint research project by Shop.org, comScore and The Partnering Group, found that U.S. consumers follow an average of 9.3 retailers on Pinterest compared to 6.9 retailers on Facebook and 8.5 on Twitter.

Discussion Questions: Do Pinterest and other social media sites help level the playing field for small retailers competing against chains? What strategic approach and/or tactics do you see as most helpful for independents seeking an advantage through Pinterest?

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10 Comments on "Small Guys Benefiting Most From Pinterest"

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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Social media, due to the small expense associated with using it, can greatly benefit small retailers. If they have the desired item in stock, are priced competitively and provide strong customer service, small retailers will find social media to be of great value.

Small retailers need to offer plenty of photos of merchandise, feature a customer forum with recommendations, clearly spell out their shipping and return policies and make it easy for consumers to find what they are looking for and complete the purchase.

Joe Nassour
Guest
Joe Nassour
5 years 2 months ago

Pinterest is a great medium for small companies with unique content. Because of its visual nature, a small company can simply post what makes them unique thereby generating interest and sales.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

According to Bizrate and SteelHouse it would seem like Pinterest offers smaller players some advantages over big names, but there are some missing factors in this report that make it difficult to draw a firm conclusion. First, Pinterest is the new kid on the block and it’s knock-offs are even newer. It’s rate of growth has slowed and it’s too new to see how well its utilization and click-throughs leading to purchases will hold up in the future. Liking on Facebook is past the novelty stage, so it’s a comparison of an established habit to one that’s still novel. Additionally, I’m not sure that larger retailers have ventured into this area very deeply yet.

The biggest opportunity for small retailers is displaying unique or one-of-a-kind merchandise via beautiful photography. It’s a differentiator that big players don’t have and one of the biggest leverage points available for them to stay viable.

David Biernbaum
BrainTrust

Social media helps to level or at least make different the playing field for small retailers and also small brands. However, social media needs to be put in the hands of knowledgeable and attentive individuals that will treat social media dynamically and integrate it into the comprehensive marketing plan. And no, it’s not a job for a summer intern.

Dan Frechtling
BrainTrust

The big four retail (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest) may help equalize small and large retail. The trade-off is the amount of effort.

Presence-oriented sites like Pinterest and YouTube are streamlined and simple. A digital camera makes you a Pinterest producer. A couple hundred dollars yields a YouTube commercial. There are fewer distractions like games, promotions and other clutter. Both sites are commerce-friendly. According to the 2012 Social Commerce Study, Pinterest drives the most clickthroughs and YouTube the most research among the big four.

Activity-oriented social media like Facebook and Twitter require more care and feeding. Retailers need to post and tweet continuously to fight their way into the stream. According to Facebook, only 16% of fans see a given post from a retailer. Twitter is even more crowded. This makes these media less likely to level.

With Pinterest and YouTube, independents commit less time and get more return on their posts. They are levelers. With Facebook and Twitter, constant input is required. They are battles for reach and large marketing teams or agencies have the advantage.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

Social media can absolutely help smaller retailers level the playing field. It lines up perfectly with what independent retailers are all about in terms of connecting in a more personal way with customers. At the same time, simply throwing up a social media site of some sort without the proper focus, knowledge and expertise can do more damage than good.

Sid Raisch
Guest
Sid Raisch
5 years 2 months ago

YES! This is another way that “small is beautiful.” However, this is only as good as the small business actually is. The best way to kill a business is to market it beyond its ability and capacity to deliver on its promises, implied or explicit.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
5 years 2 months ago

I think the big issue with all these sites is that as they become more prevalent, the message becomes so diffused that it becomes almost impossible to maintain them all. Maybe this is a great opportunity for a new software product that gives promoters a single interface to all the sites. Kind of like a “Kayak for suppliers” that publishes a supplier’s message across all the social sites with one entry by supplier. The number of sites would become irrelevant, but I guess the “posting fees” could really add up.

I do believe independents have a bright future because of the Internet. The need to establish buying co-ops in order to achieve supplier discounts remains, but the need for a headquarters staff to spot trends, negotiate new product introductions, or tell the store how to run their business is declining. Smart independents can get their message to consumers just as well as the big guys and can offer a more genuine experience to shoppers when they visit the store or website.

Rama Ganesan
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Rama Ganesan
5 years 2 months ago

“According to new research from Bizrate Insights, nearly 20 percent of shoppers claim they made a purchase on the Etsy.com marketplace site after seeing an image on Pinterest. Branded stores (13 percent) and small boutiques (12 percent) were next.” Pinterest draws people who are already interested in Etsy and small boutiques. Just look at the Pinterest images and compare with the Etsy home page showcase! So it’s really not that surprising that Pinterest works for the independents more than the large players. If I like Etsy, I would probably also go to Pinterest. So the question is, what-leads-to-what?

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
5 years 2 months ago

In this rapidly evolving space, Pinterest can make a difference for the small retailer. It can help develop the “community” of core shoppers that drives success; takes special effort to develop an maintain, but can help make the difference.

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