Pinterest wants to make online shopping fun

Driven in part by the global pandemic, online shopping has been booming, even drawing big media firms like BuzzFeed into the fold.  While there have been dramatic increases in how many people are turning to ecommerce and how much of retail spending is done online, satisfaction with online shopping is not particularly high, with only 4 out of 10 people saying they prefer online shopping over in-store shopping, according to data cited by Jim Habig, Global Head of Business Marketing at Pinterest.

Habig recently suggested in an Adweek column that the reason for this is the ecommerce experience is currently focused on “online buying” – making it fast and easy – but not on “online shopping,” which involves browsing and taking time to explore and consider. It has made the shopping experience speedy and efficient but stripped it of what makes it “fun” for people who enjoy window shopping and spending more time perusing items at big box retailers.

Pinterest believes that giving shoppers an opportunity to “luxuriate in the shopping experience” is likely to produce even greater revenues in the ecommerce space. As Habig explains: “Turns out that when you rush people to purchase, you leave money on the table. Our research shows when people spend more time shopping, they also spend more money.”

However, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure® , Pinterest’s assertion that browsing is paramount to the shopping experience may be an oversimplification of any friction holding back ecommerce’s potential. Nearly half (46%) of the US population agree with the statement, “When shopping, you usually try to get what you need and leave without browsing for much else,” while only 31% disagree. An overarching desire for more browsing does not appear to be the primary driver for any dissatisfaction with ecommerce compared to in-store options. Perhaps there are other reasons some consumers prefer in-store shopping, such as instant gratification (they can take home purchases right away) or online privacy/security concerns.

That said, and while it might not be of the magnitude suggested by Habig, it may be true that Pinterest users are more likely to desire “a good browse”. The percentage of Pinterest users that disagree that they try to get what they need and leave without browsing sits higher at 36% while those agreeing is slightly lower at 43%. In an Amazon-dominated ecommerce world, the online shopping experience hasn’t seen much innovation over the last decade. For some consumers, convenience is all that matters, but for others who desire something more “experiential,” Pinterest may be right that a shakeup is in order.