We’ve written extensively about Pinterest in the past, but seeing as I’m relatively new to the fold I thought it would be a good idea to get my head around this visually pleasing virtual pinboard.

I’m going to focus on how some of the top ecommerce brands in the UK are using the social network to engage with their target customers.

According to the Internet Retailing UK Top 500, the top five ecommerce brands in the UK are:

  1. Amazon UK.
  2. Argos.
  3. House of Fraser.
  4. John Lewis.
  5. Marks & Spencer.

It therefore makes sense to focus on these five companies. They may not be the most successful brands in Pinterest terms, but I wanted to focus on the ecommerce companies who’ve had the greatest success overall.

Amazon UK

Amazon takes a no-nonsense approach to naming its pin boards, using simple, literal phrases such as ‘Kitchen Gadgets’ or ‘Lawn and Garden.’ 

Amazon Pinterest

It also makes heavy use of phrases such as ‘For the Baby’ or ‘For the Home Office,’ again going for basic but descriptive terms. 

It’s no secret that Amazon is all about selling products, and lots of them. If you go into one of its Pinterest boards you won’t see an exception to this rule.

Unlike some other brands, the majority of Amazon’s pins link back to its own product pages. There is some third party content scattered about but it’s definitely in the minority. 

Amazon Pins

Amazon has even got around the need to publish other people’s videos by hosting its own content on Amazon.com and linking back to that. 

In the below example it has created a board of recipes which all link back to video content from the ‘Amazon Kitchen Shorts’ page.  

Pin linking to video

Here's the video itself:

Oatmeal cookie froyo video

Being Amazon, it has of course included a handy sidebar of suggested products. You wouldn’t expect it to miss out on the opportunity to sell you something, would you?

It does feel like Amazon is using Pinterest solely as an advertising platform, but you can’t fault its ability to draw people into a purchase. 

It catches people’s attention with the original pin, builds their interest with the video, and then presents them with relevant products once their excitement has peaked. It’s a classic strategy. 

Argos

Argos has gone for an upbeat, seasonal feel when naming its Pinterest boards, using phrases like ‘Get Set For Festivals’ or ‘Get Set For Mother’s Day’ or ‘Back To Uni.’

Argos Pinterest

Unlike Amazon, Argos seems to pin a fairly even mix of links back to its own site and third party content, which provides a nice balance and makes the whole thing feel a bit more fun and friendly. 

Argos pin board

One thing Argos does really well on Pinterest is the use of appealing imagery when displaying its products. 

Take the garden-themed example below. All of the pictures have a positive, summery feel to them, which is likely to put people in the right mood to buy that type of product. 

Argos pin board

House of Fraser

House of Fraser is by far the most prolific pinner of the lot, with 6,943 pins. That’s more than double the number John Lewis has as the second highest of the five brands.  

In terms of the look and feel of the main page it is understandably very fashion-focused, with words like ‘beauty’ and ‘style’ popping up all over the place. 

Argos Pinterest

In terms of where the Pins link back to it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some of its boards are very product-focused, like the ‘Men’s Formalwear’ example below.

These are heavily weighted towards its own content.

House of Fraser pin board

But House of Fraser also includes several boards almost entirely dedicated to third party content, such as the ‘Quotes to Live Your Life By’ board below.

It feels like the whole inspirational quotes thing has been done to death, but people still seem to share them so it obviously works. 

House of Fraser inspirational quotes

The ‘Nails | Beauty’ example below represents a third type of board that includes a fairly equal mix of links to House of Fraser product pages and third party content. 

I suppose the reasoning behind the amount of third party content on this board compared to the formal menswear example above is to do with the subject matter. 

The images and ideas associated with nail decorating are generally more eye-catching and shareable than pictures of blokes in suits (although I suppose that’s subjective).

House of Fraser nails and beauty

John Lewis

I’m not sure why but I really like the look of the John Lewis page. It could just be the mix of photos it uses and the decent amount of colour, but somehow it seems more eye-catching than the other four. 

John Lewis Pinterest

John Lewis does some things on a monthly cycle. This makes sense for its fashion lines, but it’s also a good way to build up excitement for the next instalment and keep people coming back to the page. 

The example below shows how it focuses on monthly trends for men’s fashion and then links back to relevant items from its own range. 

John Lewis monthly trends

John Lewis also has boards featuring products that its customers are talking about, like the ‘Beauty Faves’ example below. 

This is a clever move for two reasons: firstly, John Lewis knows people are already interested in these products. Secondly, the board provides an effective form of social proof

Marks & Spencer

The boards on the Marks & Spencer Pinterest page seem to be mostly split between women’s fashion and home décor.

There are also a few wedding-related boards, presumably to cater for the marriage season over the summer months.

Marks & Spencer Pinterest

Marks & Spencer, like Amazon, mostly just Pins links to its own product pages, even on boards like the ‘London Street Style’ example below that would lend themselves quite nicely to some curated or user-generated content. 

London street style Marks & Spencer

There are a couple of boards that have a slightly better balance. The ‘Wedding Inspiration’ example below includes a mix of clothing and décor ideas, with all the clothing images linking back to a Marks & Spencer product page. 

I like this approach because it gives the customer some genuinely useful information while directing them to product pages that are actually relevant.

Win-win for the retailer and the consumer.

Marks & Spencer wedding inspiration

Conclusion

All of these ecommerce sites are doing certain things really well on Pinterest, but I couldn’t say any one of them is absolutely nailing it in the same way as companies like Asos or Etsy do. 

I think there is a lot to be learnt from Amazon in terms of the customer journey, though, i.e. hosting valuable content (not just product pages) on your own site, drawing people to it from Pinterest and then suggesting relevant purchases when they get there.

Jack Simpson

Published 23 June, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

Tap Analytic

Tap Analytic, Marketing lead at Tap

When Pinterest Added the eCommerce feature in their Interface I was curious about how companies will use it. This article really helped me understand the concept. Thanks.

almost 2 years ago

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