The Internet Is Becoming A Shopping Centre

June 22nd, 2015 by

“Buy” buttons are appearing on Instagram, Pinterest and Google as free-to-use services are working on how to monetise their users.

In recent weeks, “buy” buttons have been announced as a new feature on Instagram, Pinterest and Google. The internet has always been a great place to shop and to sell, but this takes online shopping to the next level.

Having a “buy” button right there means fewer clicks to shop, meaning people are more likely to go ahead and do so. Being able to pay via PayPal or Apple Pay is already a great feature on many shopping sites, as you don’t have to register your details every time you visit somewhere new. The “buy” buttons within Instagram, Pinterest and Google will take this principle even further: people can now shop from third-party sites without leaving the referrer, paying for goods right there. So if you see something you like on Pinterest, you can buy and pay right there in the app.

While convenient for consumers, this is an interesting development in terms of how free-to-use services like Pinterest are monetising their popularity. Pinterest has always felt like a great shopping site, except that it hasn’t been selling anything – it’s more like a gallery. Previously, if you found something you liked on Pinterest you had to go searching for it on the company website, assuming it was clear where the product was from. If you were lucky there was a link to the retailer, which would result in a small payment to the pinner. These affiliate links were Pinterest’s first attempts at monetising the site, but in February, Pinterest started removing the links. On 2nd June it became clear why: ‘Buyable Pins’ were launched: “When you spot a Pin with a blue price, you’ll know you can buy it right from the app. Searching for something specific? Use the price filter to hone in on just the right Pin,” Chao Wang, Engineering Manager, wrote on the Pinterest blog.

Interestingly, Pinterest won’t be taking a cut from the sales generated through the Buyable Pins, although it stands to reason Pinterest should become more attractive to advertisers after this feature is launched. While Pinterest has always been a great place to drive brand engagement, this is something more substantial. The same holds true for Instagram whose aspirational vibe makes it a great place to market products.

“Instagram is not an index or collection of the web where syndicated links matter, it’s about photos people take. You’re not retweeting, regramming, or passing a link on” James Quarles, Global Head of Business and Brand Development at Pinterest, told ‘TechCrunch’. “We think [“buy” buttons] are a very lightweight experience to go into an in-app browser … and then come back to the app. We’re staying true to the values of simplicity.”.

A “buy” button on Google is a more straightforward proposition: it enables people to buy things from third party retailers without leaving the search engine’s page. Thought to be a response to the steady rise of Amazon, Google’s “buy” button was announced at May’s Code Conference in California: “There’s going to be a buy button. It’s going to be imminent,” said Google’s chief business officer Omid Kordestani.

These three “Buy” buttons are likely just the beginning of a trend, if technology futurist Mary Meeker is to be believed. The renowned Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers analyst predicted “buy” buttons will be the next big thing, as mobile commerce allows people to shop from wherever they happen to spend their time, be it Google, Instagram and Pinterest – or maybe next: Twitter and Facebook.

Could your business benefit from the introduction of a buy button? Let us know @UK2.

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