How many times have you scrolled through pins and thought to yourself, “I wish all of this was hanging in my closet.” Well, that dream is coming closer to being a reality. Buyable Pins are coming to Pinterest, but that’s not the only place where you can shop while you browse through your social accounts. Instagram is also bringing e-commerce to its social platform.

Early this month, Pinterest and Instagram introduced new e-commerce features to their platforms. We all knew social commerce was coming, but what does it mean for the future of e-commerce? Before you redo your social media strategy and content calendars, there are eight things you need to know about Pinterest and Instagram’s latest announcement.


1. Call to action buttons. Not only can you now buy products from a post, you can also sign up for deals on a website for example, or download a brand’s app. Instagram’s new feature allows brands to expand advertising options that allow users to take direct action, slimming down the path to conversion.

photo -  Instagram examples for commerce
photo - instagram sample for different companies

2. Backed by Facebook. Just in case you weren’t aware, Facebook bought Instagram back in 2012. That means Instagram ads have access to Facebook’s advanced targeting capabilities, giving brands a greater chance of getting their content in front of people who are already interested in what they are selling.

3. Branded content. This new ad feature has great potential for e-commerce businesses, but only if you can create the right content. Instagram has worked hard to create ads that seamlessly fit into its platform. They don’t want their users to be disturbed while scrolling through photos of their friends’ food and cat photos. This means that if you want to take advantage of this popular platform and its targeting capabilities, you need to make sure you are creating content that is branded, not an advertisement.

4. Big boys get to play first. Instagram says they have every intention to expand new services globally to businesses large and small throughout the year. But for now, only a select group of Facebook Marketing partners and agencies will get to test out new ad features. What does this mean for you? If Instagram is a part of your social media strategy, this would be a good time to get the team together and brainstorm how to take advantage of social commerce features in the future. For now, use this time to build up your audience, so you’re ready to play once the new features are rolled out to a broader group of advertisers.


1. “Buy it” buttons and product searches. Increasing revenue via Pinterest just got serious. Pinterest recently introduced Buyable Pins, which will have a blue price listed, as well as a blue “Buy it” button. Pinners will also be able to search for products within a specified price range. When pinners find something they like, they can make a purchase right from the platform using Apple Pay or a credit card.

photo - different companies showing their products on Pinterest

2. Mobile first approach. We will start to see Buyable Pins at the end of June, but only on iPhones and iPads. Desktop and Android users will have to wait for future releases. According to Pinterest, Buyable Pins were designed to work seamlessly on mobile. With 47 million active users and data projections to be over 50 million users by next year, Pinterest’s mobile first design, along with Google’s Mobilegedon earlier in April, is a strong sign that e-commerce is going mobile.

3. Coming soon to a platform you use. Buyable Pins will only be available to a few major brands, such as Macy’s and Nordstorm, and e-commerce stores using Shopify or Demandware. If you currently do not host your site on those platforms, you can get on Pinterest’s waiting list for future integration opportunities. Pinterest is also exploring other e-commerce platforms and have finally opened their doors to a few third-party developers.

4. Full speed ahead or take caution? Unlike Instagram’s new e-commerce feature, Buyable Pins allow pinners to buy products directly from the pin, whereas Instagram directs users to the merchant’s website. So is this a good or bad thing? Yes and maybe yes. By allowing pinners to buy directly from the pin it slims down the path to purchase and increases the likelihood of a conversion. It also removes the need for those shoppers to visit your website. Common justifications for implementing a social media marketing strategy is to drive traffic to your site, increasing the SEO benefits that come with more visits. But what if people no longer need to come to your website to shop?

This could provide ammunition for the uphill battle that social and content marketers have been fighting since the beginning of their existence – proving ROI. The average order value of a sale that comes from Pinterest is $50. The new social feature may help those C-suite executives see the return they so desperately seek from social. On the other hand, it could be possible that this new e-commerce feature could be a total flop, like Facebook Gifts.

The big takeaway: If the big internet giants are putting this much effort to bring e-commerce to social, than any e-commerce store that’s looking to stay in business needs to embrace social media marketing and the evolving ideas that come with it. At this point, if you are in the e-commerce business and haven’t started using social media, you’re missing opportunities, period. But for those who have, it’s time to step up your game, as social media tries to seal its fate with e-commerce.