Pinterest & Social Media Paying Off for Many Retailers #Pinned

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The impact of social media on retailers’ sales is now more significant than ever. CNBC reported Friday that according to a new report from Experian Marketing Services, social media sites in March accounted for 7.72 percent of traffic to retail websites. That’s up from about 6.6 percent the prior year. Shoppers are visiting sites like YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook (NYSE:NYSE:FB), and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) before getting directed to the retailers’ online stores, and there are also some relatively new players in the game that are racking up the highest percentage of traffic to retailers’ sites of all. Veterans like Facebook and YouTube are still drive significant percentages at 5.3 and 3.8 percent, respectively, but CNBC also highlighted the case of Pinterest, the visual discovery tool that boasted a 10.9 percent traffic rate according to March reports. Twitter had the lowest percentage with 2.8 percent.

Pinterest does well in the social shopping sphere because consumers often visit the site for fashion and food ideas, and then are directed to the site that sells what others have “pinned.” For example, Pinterest addicts can easily pin the Macy’s (NYSE:M) dress they are saving up for, or the practical pots and pan set they want but don’t need, and then other consumers can see those pins and access the products directly on retailers’ sites. That racks up traffic percentages for Pinterest, and paints it as the perfect vehicle for retailers to boost sales. Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services, explained via CNBC, “While search still dominates, social media is becoming a significant source of traffic across the Internet as consumers increasingly use sites like Facebook, Pinterest, or YouTube more as discovery platforms.”

Almost all retailers can benefit from their products enjoying face time on the different social media channels, but some are especially at the advantage, and those include Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), and Target. According to CNBC, Amazon is the retailer that sees the greatest uptick in sales from the social trend, ranking as the most popular retail site in traffic referrals from Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest, while the discount retailers are close seconds. Wal-Mart and Target are working to close that gap by collaborating with Pinterest, an initiative they announced last month, and behind them sit daily deals site Zulily and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), making the top 5 of Pinterest referrals.

It is thus clear that social shopping is on the rise, and only growing more and more important, but different retailers have still constructed their own strategies of taking advantage of social media sites. In a departure from Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart’s strategy, we learned earlier in March about Sephora’s plan of action. The popular French cosmetics company recently launched its own social network, Beauty Board, that allows users to upload photos of their own makeup or hairstyle and add a caption and tag the beauty products so viewers can shop the exact products used to create the look. Sephora executives have demonstrated the understanding that their shoppers are social media addicts (many are regulars on Pinterest), and thus took it upon themselves to roll out the latest “social shopping campaign” that has gone over significantly well with customers.

Analysts believe that on top of Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook, more and more social sites like Sephora’s new social network will start popping up as retailers work to take advantage of new technology. If anything is clear, it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and companies either have to update their services to make sure they’re on board or risk getting thrown off the ship.

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