Pinterest tries to one-up Amazon with new shopping features like AI-enabled search



Pinterest wants to be better than Amazon or Google at helping people find things to buy. It has a long way to go; until today, it didn’t even have a shopping cart. But it’s getting closer to parity and even applying cutting-edge technology to get ahead of the curve.

On Thursday — almost a year to the day since Pinterest rolled out buyable pins in the US, which it’s now bringing to the web — the company is adding a host of new e-commerce features. Some are standard. There’s nothing new to a cross-platform shopping cart and merchant profiles. But others attempt to make searching for products by typing in text and scrolling through results seem outdated.

People can now put items from different merchants in a shopping bag that they can access and check out from any device. And Pinterest is adding merchant profiles so that people can see what specific sellers have on offer, including what’s popular and what’s on sale. Again, standard.


Pinterest is also adding new ways for people to find products on Pinterest by applying more artificial intelligence technology.

Pinterest will use computer vision — which is exactly what it sounds like — to automatically detect objects within an image, so that when someone is looking at a photo, they’ll be able to click on a dot corresponding to a purse or pair of shoes in the photo to see similar products on Pinterest, assuming that person is using their iPhone or iPad. It’s an offshoot of the visual search tool that Pinterest rolled out last year. That visual search feature appears to have helped Pinterest’s computers learn how to automatically recognize objects in photos by tracking the objects actual humans had manually identified in photos when asking Pinterest to show them similar ones.


Pinterest is also working on a reverse kind of search. Instead of going to Pinterest to find a product, some time in the coming months, people will be able to take a photo of an object and have Pinterest show similar products that have been pinned to its platform.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles.

He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.



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