- Pinterest has acquired m-commerce application Tote (or at least part of the team behind Tote's technology) as it looks to leverage click-to-buy features across its social networking platform.
- The Tote shopping app highlights products suggested by fashion influencers and other tastemakers. Pinterest is not acquiring Tote's app or technology, and plans to shut down the app by July 15, though it is helping Tote users make the move to Pinterest.
- "The hard reality of building a consumer business is that a great product alone does not result in a viable business," Tote co-creator Mike Bidgoli wrote in a blog post. " As we geared up to raise our next round of funding, we came across an opportunity to join Pinterest where we could launch our work to 100M+ engaged users."
Bidgoli wrote something else in his blog post that's worth mentioning: "In this new world, merchandising is no longer at the sole discretion of retailers and brands, but instead it is personalized, editorialized, and spread via thousands of influencers —bloggers and consumers alike."
That's the theory, in its most crystalized form, that is driving social media sites to include buy buttons in an attempt to turn their sites into sales channels for marketing partners. However, that notion hasn't led to a market bonanza just yet, and data analytics and advertising still remain the leading methods of monetizing a social media user base.
Still, according to research from Cowen & Company, Pinterest might be in a better position to make the transition to social media sales channel than other sites. A recent Cowen survey found that 55% of Pinterest users access the site for shopping purposes, far outdistancing Facebook and Instagram at 12% each.
Pinterest's potential value for e-commerce is nothing new, either. More than a year ago, marketing consultant MillwardBrown found that about 30% of Pinterest users admitted to buying something online after they had seen it on Pinterest.
There is more work to be done though, and Pinterest appears to be buying the talent that it thinks can get that work done. Some of this work will involve coming up with just the right technology, processes and messaging to get more site users to initiate and close transactions through Pinterest. However, it also will require a shift in mindset and purchasing preferences among users. If Pinterest—or any other site for that matter—can match the right purchasing process to a user group that's ready to buy, the next major evolution in social media will be upon us.