Pinterest Could Become an E-Commerce Site

Could the third most popular social network become the most popular social commerce site?

Eerily addictive and rapidly growing social networking site Pinterest has been around for a while now–long enough, at least, to start to determine how beneficial it can be for retailers. Back in January, Mashable reported that Pinterest had become a top traffic referrer for many e-commerce sites, joining the ranks of Facebook and Twitter. However, its ability to drive actual sales had yet to be determined–until now.

Shopify recently crunched the numbers and put together a handy infographic explaining how Pinterest drives online sales–which it does. A lot. According to their report, traffic from Pinterest to e-tailers is equal to that of Twitter. However, visitors from Pinterest were 10% more likely to make a purchase than those from other social networking sites, including Facebook–even though Facebook actually drives more traffic. Some other interesting factoids:

• The average order from a Pinterest user is $80–twice the average order from visitors referred from Facebook
• Pins with prices get 36% more likes than those without
• In Q2 of 2011, Pinterest represented only 1% of social media-driven revenue for stores, whereas in Q1 of 2012, it represented 17%

So what does all of this mean? Well, now that Pinterest has just raised over $100 million from investors, it potentially means a lot. Reports say the money will be used for international expansion and additional services. Given Pinterest’s proven success at driving e-commerce sales, it’s quite likely e-commerce could be one of those services–especially since the funding round was led by Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce giant. Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said in a statement:

While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining. We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest’s vision and Rakuten’s model for e-commerce. Rakuten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world.
Retailers and analysts initially thought Facebook would be the next leader in social commerce, but initial attempts by JCPenney and Gap have proven unsuccessful, according to WWD. Now, despite Facebook’s huge IPO, which makes Pinterest’s investment round look like chump change, social commerce could be anyone’s game.

Do you shop while you’re pinning?