Target and Pinterest have forged a partnership under which Target shoppers will be able to use the Pinterest Lens visual search tool as part of the Target registry shopping experience, making Target the first and only U.S. retailer enabling that capability with Pinterest, according to a blog post from the retailer.
Target said it will add Pinterest Lens, along with insights from its massive catalog, into Target’s registry experience in the coming months. At some point after that, the retailer plans to add the visual search tech to the Target mobile app, the company said.
The partners did not disclose the financial terms of their partnership, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the technology integration is bundled with a multi-year deal under which Target is buying ads on Pinterest, which the social media site described as its largest such deal ever.
This could be a big technology win for Target, as it’s set to become one of the first major retailers from the brick-and-mortar universe to adopt a visual search capability.
It sounds like it could be a while before we see it working within Target’s registry, and longer before it shows up in Target’s mobile app, but the latter could be an especially exciting development — unless of course every retailer under the sun adopts similar technology between now and then. If they don't, Target's adoption could very well force visual search into becoming table stakes for retailer mobile apps.
Even as other retailers start heading down this path — and they should if they consider Target a competitor — it appears they won’t be able to use Pinterest Lens to power their visual search. At least, that’s the takeaway from Target’s claim of exclusivity — an interesting, perhaps risky allowance by Pinterest.
In recent months, as Pinterest has been perfecting its visual search capability, the social site has started to look like an increasingly appealing potential partner for retailers. After it rolled out a beta version of Pinterest Lens earlier this year, it integrated visual search with its Instant Ideas and Shop the Look features, and later enhanced Lens with the ability to recognize QR codes that link back to brand web sites. It also unveiled a browser button to make the capability more widely available.
These moves make it look like Pinterest is taking clear aim at the more established shopping features of Google, which has over the years tried to position itself as a shopping partner for retailers not named Amazon — most recently by partnering with Home Depot and Walmart on its Google Home device. Not to mention that Google has also been pushing ahead on visual search.
It's not clear at this point whether Pinterest will be able to work with other retailers on the visual search front in ways that don't conflict with the Target partnership, but that will be something to watch in the coming months. It will likewise be interesting to see how much of a difference-maker visual search is for Target, as well as how it affects the rest of the industry.