The term p-commerce was coined in 2005 by Marc Pinkus, the CEO of Zynga. While in its original iteration, it simply meant participatory commerce, in its more modern usage it also means Pinterest-commerce. What is that exactly? Let me explain.

The original form of participatory commerce involves the buyer or public in design or production of various products. We can see this idea at work with business Facebook surveys that ask users about products (e.g. would you prefer us to make this product in the following colors?), and organizations like Kickstarter which allow users to choose to contribute to causes, businesses, and product production. With the popularization of social media and general participatory culture, this trend is set to continue as users become more communicative with brands about what they want.

Are You Pinterested?

Social media has been the driving force behind participatory commerce because it has opened new channels for consumers to not only contact businesses and brands, but also to share the products that they like with friends. Pinterest commerce is a potential game changer for the world of online and offline sales, and the text-driven model of e-commerce is changing as people are looking for visual stimuli on the Internet. As Pinterest functions as an online pin board, it enables user to collect images of things that they want, and they are doing it by the millions.

Since Pinterest has over 27 million users, businesses are starting to take notice of what it has to offer and are even creating Pinterest accounts themselves. Of the top 5 U.S. brands, 3 had Pinterest accounts that they used to engage pinners. All have a variety of boards that they pin on according to topic, and not all stick strictly to their own industry. In fact, expanding to other topics of interest can help attract followers, because ultimately it is the prettiness of the pictures that gets people to like, repin, and follow.

But What About Demographics?

You may be concerned about how applicable Pinterest is to your business demographic, especially since over 80% of Pinterest users are women. However, you’ll also be glad to know that Pinterest users are pretty evenly spread across age groups within the general range of 18-64, meaning that while Pinterest is predominantly used by women, its varying age demographics make it appealing to a variety of different business industries.

Interestingly, this contrasts with Twitter and Facebook users who congregate in the 18-29 age spectrum, and as far as sales go, some retailers have found that Pinterest users are more likely to make purchases. Wayfair analyzed their online shopping trends and found that shoppers who were referred to their site by Pinterest were 10% more likely to make purchases than if they were routed through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. In addition, these Pinterest shoppers spent 10% more on average, and a Bizrate Insights study found that 70% of respondents used Pinterest for inspiration on what to buy, leaving Facebook in the dust with a meager 17%.

These statistics in many ways signal the changing social trends for online shopping, and since Pinterest is predominantly visual, its image-based nature could be attributed to this increase in ecommerce for Pinterest users. In fact, many websites are shifting from a text-based model and focusing on optimizing images for social media sharing. While many social media users get on these sites to interact with other people, they also respond to other people’s likes and shares and come away with inspiration for purchases. And, since many social media users like, favorite, and follow their favorite brands, this allows business social media users to connect with users about products and promotions.

What Does this Mean for Your Business?

In short, it means that you need to take p-commerce very seriously, and Pinterest is making it easier for you by providing business Pinterest accounts. Pinterest for businesses allows for the same board creation as regular users, as well as analytical functions so that you can see what pinners are re-pinning and liking. With these analytical insights, you can focus on the boards that are working best for you, and expand your general online brand and following.

While it might seem like just another social media site to update, having your products and services on Pinterest, or creating a Pinterest following from your own boards that ultimately leads back to your brand, can be incredibly productive for sales and exposure. This may require you to move to a more visual-based model of ecommerce, but that seems to be the general trend. So, don’t get left in the dust! Jump on the p-commerce train and start pinning your heart out.


Horton, Chris. “Pinterest Users are Sales-Ready: Why Every Business Should Be on Pinterest.” Heyo Hub Blog. (20 April, 2013).

Indvik, Lauren. “Pinterest Becomes Sales Driver for Major Home Goods Store.” Mashable. (29 April, 2013).

—-. “What the Heck is P-Commerce.” Mashable. (30 April, 2013).

“Online Consumer Pulse Pinterest vs. Facebook: Which Social Networking Site Wins at Shopping Engagement.” Bizrate Insights. (30 April, 2013).

Tate, Ryan. “How Pretty Pictures are Conquering Online Shopping.” Wired. (30 April, 2013).

Yu, Jim. “Pinterest Best Practice Tips for Brands.” Search Engine Watch. (29 April, 2013).