Pinterest enters the online grocery foray

Shoppable ads let users buy ingredients directly from the site

Talk about good timing. Pinterest had just started with a new shoppable ad format before the world screeched to a halt. Yet with everyone stuck at home, online grocery sales shot through the roof.

The investments the company had made over the past year looked pretty prescient as hungry people turned to Pinterest first for an idea, then for the supplies to create the masterpiece.

Arthur Sevilla, Pinterest’s head of global vertical strategy, told Adweek that over a six-week period this spring, the number of U.S. consumers using online to groceries has been “more than we’ve seen in the last six years.”

It’s not just Pinterest seeing that. Supermarket News, citing Coresight Research, reports that online grocery sales in the U.S. grew 22 percent in 2019 and look to top 40 percent in 2020. Another report from grocery consultant Brick Meets Click and research firm Symphony RetailAI found that grocery sales reached $5.3 billion in April.

Customers have to decide what they want to cook before they buy, though, and Pinterest is uniquely positioned there. Shoppers turn to the platform when they need “cooking tips” — a term that spiked by 411 percent among members of Generation X, compared with the same time last year, or inspiration for “leftovers” — a term that jumped 191 percent.

With a hungry and willing audience, shoppable ads was an obvious step. Pinterest users can find something interesting on a shoppable ad and click to a third-party site which ties directly to a digital basket. Companies like Walmart and Basketful fulfill the grocery order, making it easier to find what’s needed to turn leftovers into dinner.

Pinterest has taken on other shoppable initiatives as ecommerce has skyrocketed. In June, the site launched search results directly from its Lens results: Users can snap or upload a photo and see shoppable pins based on in-stock ads. Each pin links directly to the checkout page on the retailer’s site.