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IRC 2019 INTERVIEW Adele Cooper of Pinterest on inspiration in retail

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We’re looking ahead to IRC 2019 in a series of interviews and previews. Today we hear from Adele Cooper, UK and Ireland country manager at Pinterest. 

InternetRetailing: At IRC 2019 you’re speaking on a panel about assessing the real power of the customer, online retailer and media owner. Which of these do you think has the most power in the relationship, and why?

Adele Cooper: Without a doubt, the customer has the most power, and this is how it should be. It’s widely accepted that the digital landscape is changing consumers’ shopping habits such as where and how they shop. However, while a lot has changed in retail over the years, what hasn’t changed is how important inspiration is to the retail business. Retail is rooted in creating inspiration in people’s lives. Back in the day, the store played a very different role in people’s lives. Without smartphones in people’s pockets, you’d have to ‘go to the store’ physically in order to find new possibilities to bring into your lives. And because of this, ‘shopping’ was very much an experience. People and their families and friends would go shopping together. The actual transaction was the result of the browsing journey, not the starting point for consumers. 

That inspiration and browsing experience is as important as ever today and retailers need to be able to connect that inspirational journey across all their channels, online and offline. Today’s consumers are conditioned to expect tailored, visual shopping experiences across multiple channels — online, in-store, and at their fingertips, on mobile. While the changing landscape has presented more considerations for retailers, at the core, retail is about introducing consumers to new ideas that inspire them to make a purchase. And as always, the consumer has the power to walk out of the store or click to another website. 

IR: How do you see retailers developing the way that they use Pinterest in order to engage with customers? 

AC: On Pinterest, we’re putting retailers in front of customers who are open to discovering something new, are undecided about which brand to buy and are full of intent. While people use social media for entertainment and communication, people go to Pinterest to be productive. They’re there to plan. 84% of weekly Pinners use Pinterest when they are considering products/services to buy but are undecided. 97% of searches on Pinterest are non-branded. Retailers who use Pinterest well understand that their customers on Pinterest travel from inspiration to action and back again on the platform and savvy retailers on Pinterest target content and advertising accordingly. Retailers on Pinterest have the opportunity to put relevant content in front of potential customers at every stage of the journey – when they are browsing through many possibilities; when they are comparing a handful of options and when they are ready to make a purchase. Retailers such as John Lewis & Partners, B&Q, MADE and Sainsbury’s in the UK are creating compelling and actionable content on Pinterest to take advantage of the strong purchasing intent of people on the platform. 

IR: Do you have one or two pieces of advice for retailers looking to improve the way they interact via the platform? 

AC: For any retailers not yet using the platform, we have a lot of information online to help you get started. As a first step, you should sign-up for a business profile (it’s quick and free), claim your website and other accounts, start saving content, and check your analytics so you know what content is resonating with Pinners. People come to Pinterest for both inspiration and the ability to be connected to the retailers that provide it. So, these basic steps will drive targeted traffic and help your products and services get discovered. 

For retailers already using the platform, I’d say reach out to your Pinterest account team who are here to help and can share best practices directly. A quick tip is to keep in mind that people on Pinterest are planners and often start searching for inspiration two to three months in advance (or earlier). So if you’re planning for a seasonal moment such as Christmas, you should know that some people start planning for Christmas in September, so try adding content early so you reach people at their initial stage of planning. At the same time, don’t forget the non-planners amongst us who seek last minute ideas! 

IR: How do you see the relationship between customers, retailers and platforms such as Pinterest developing in the future? 

AC: We believe the future of shopping will focus on both discovery and personalisation – two aspects we’ve always prioritised on the platform. People on Pinterest are planners and come to the platform to find trends, styles and looks as a way to figure out their preferences. Brands/retailers are additive on Pinterest and ads are content. The best brands help fuel inspiration and give people the tools to actualise/enable their inspiration. No other platform enables such a symbiotic relationship between consumers and brands. 

IR: Aside from your own session, what are you most looking forward to at IRC 2019? 

AC: There are so many sessions that I’ve bookmarked and am very excited to attend. One that stands out is the joint interview session discussing ethical ecommerce. We’re seeing an increase in searches on ethical products on Pinterest so I’m very interested in learning more about this from the retailer’s perspective. 

Adele Cooper will be speaking on the closing keynote panel at IRC 2019. Assessing the real power of the customer, online retailer and media owner is at 17.15 on October 10. 

IRC 2019 takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. A full-price retailer delegate ticket costs £495, but as an InternetRetailing reader we can offer you 75% off full price tickets if you use discount code IRMSEB100 (for retailers only).

Image courtesy of Pinterest

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