Time spent on Pinterest, the social media site that allows users to create a virtual pinboard of ideas, is valuable to retailers like Daniel Gordon, president of Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City.
Gordon, 39, has nearly 1,700 followers on the site, which is gaining traction among consumers, who personalize their Pinterest boards with recipes, crafts and clothing. It's like a wish list the users become emotionally attached to, featuring places they'd like to visit, projects they'd like to create and jewelry they'd like to own. When they see something they like, they “repin” it, and the image spreads to more users.
For retailers, that can translate into sales.
“You can really spiral outside your network easily. In my business, one contact can lead to a $20,000 sale,” he said.
Gordon recognized the potential in Pinterest and joined the 2-year-old website early on. Its users are disproportionately female (as high as 97 percent) and mostly affluent — his target customer. He fills his boards with images of beautiful engagement rings and other jewelry — some the store carries, some it doesn't — as well as food ideas, bizarre and humorous images and baby photos.
For a small business trying to compete with corporate retailers, Pinterest and other social media offer a way to build relationships with potential customers, he said.
“When someone trusts you, they're more likely to do business with you,” he explained.
National clothing retailers' interest in Pinterest is growing, although many notable names are still absent from the site. Of the 10 Internet retailers with the most Pinterest followers, six are in the apparel and accessories category. Nordstrom Inc., with nearly 15,000 followers, leads the pack, followed by Barneys New York, Vera Bradley, Neiman Marcus, Gap Inc. and Urban Outfitters, according to data compiled April 14-May 2 by Campalyst, a research firm that helps brands manage their social media presence.
Consumers are embracing the site for retail, too. A recent National Retail Federation survey found consumers follow an average of 9.3 retailers on Pinterest — more than the average 6.9 they follow on Facebook and 8.5 they track on Twitter.
Gordon approaches Pinterest differently than Facebook or Twitter.
“On Twitter, you have a conversation and it's fast-paced and interactive. On Pinterest, you browse and it's more relaxed and subtle,” he said. He uses his own name and personal interests, not a corporate account, to enhance the connection he builds with others.
Sloane Schaefer, assistant manager at Shop Good in Oklahoma City, said her staff also approaches Pinterest differently than Facebook or Twitter, sites they often use to promote sales or update followers on new stock.
Employees collaborate on a single Pinterest account, pinning products they want to carry, how they want to dress or ideas for store displays.
“We've gotten some positive feedback on Pinterest,” she said. “It's something that enhances our business.”