Pinterest rolls out product recommendations for easier shopping

It wants to be your personal shopping assistant.

Over the last few years, Pinterest has become not just a place to pin your favorite clothing or home decor ideas, but also where you would go to shop. Buyable pins would let you purchase items directly from Pinterest, while recommendation tools like Shop the Look and Lens relied on machine learning and visual search to figure out what else you'd be interested in. Today, Pinterest is ready to up the ante with a brand new Product Pin system that'll make the site even more of a shopping destination than before.

The most obvious difference is that Pinterest will now have a new shopping recommendations area in the Style and Home Decor categories. The recommendations are based on your personal tastes as well as the latest trends, and each of the pins are now called Product Pins. When you click through one of the recommended items, you'll get a feed full of similar styles as well as links to product pages where you can buy them.


So, for example, if you select a picture of a mid-century modern chair, you'll head to a page full of other mid-century modern chairs with similar designs. Each item will have dynamic pricing information as well as an indication that they're in-stock. Tap on one and you'll see a shopping tag icon pop up as an option. Hit that tag, and it'll lead you directly to the relevant product page on a retailer's website, so you can add the item to your cart and buy away.

To add to that, Pinterest is also introducing a new shopping shortcut in the main home feed. If you hold down a Home or Style pin there, that same shopping tag icon will appear. Select that, and it'll go directly to a shopping-specific feed, complete with a list of shoppable Product Pins.

"Product Pins is a result of years investing in machine vision and visual search," said Tim Weingarten, Pinterest's head of shopping, to Engadget. "The machine vision extracts the essence of the image, the style and taste of it, and uses that to query all other products that are stylistically similar."


Due to this new Product Pin recommendation system, Pinterest will effectively sunset their Buyable pins program. The company found that most consumers preferred to buy pinned items from the retailer's website, versus from Pinterest itself. "Product Pins are more personable than Buyable Pins," he said. While Buyable Pins were simply pinned items that you could purchase, Product Pins are customized to your preferences as well. Plus, now when a pinner saves a product on a page, it'll become part of Pinterest's inventory.

"We're taking all the lessons we learned from visual search and AI, and applying them to recommendations," said Weingarten. "And we're using these recommendations on products for the first time."

Pinterest users will start seeing these Product Pins as well as the new recommendation system roll out on Android and iOS starting today.