Brick and mortar stores like Target and Walmart are engaging
heavily with social networks, notably Pinterest, to clinch holiday
"Showrooming" is no longer a bad word.
Just a few years ago, the retail industry was deeply shaken by a
growing trend in store browsing -- shoppers wandering around the
aisles with their cellphones, surveying the merchandise while
looking online for somewhere else to buy it for less.
Some retailers explored blocking Internet service in stores.
Others swapped out bar codes to make them incompatible with their
competitors'. But ultimately, most major retailers decided that many
customers would be on their phones regardless of what stores did --
so they decided to get on their customers' screens.
With online retail competition increasing, nowhere is that
frantic embrace more evident this year than in the parade of
partnerships and projects traditional retailers have formed with
digital companies, many of them for the holidays.
"We want to be where the consumer is," Gregg W. Steinhafel, the
chief executive of Target, said in an interview.
"I think it's like anything that hits you with a ton of bricks,
it requires you to step back and say, 'O.K., it's very sobering, now
what does this mean for us?"' he said. "We ultimately concluded that
if that's the way the guest is going to live and shop, then we want
to be a showroom. And we love showrooming -- provided we can capture
For Target and many other retailers, among this season's
favorites is Pinterest, which Casey Carl, the president of
multichannel at Target, described as "one of the social platforms
where it's actually not only about sharing."
"It's not just about, 'Hey, look what I had for dinner!' It's
about products," he said.
There are holiday-party-planning boards for Target Red Card
holders. Nordstrom, which already released its holiday catalog on
Pinterest, said it would station signs in its 117 full-line stores
that highlight some of its popularly pinned wares.
Pinterest itself was to start a new feature on Wednesday, a
"Holiday Gift" category that would not only offer shoppers gift
ideas but give retailers yet another display window -- this one
online -- for their items.
"Pinterest is a service about connecting with things, things you
have, things you like, things you want," said Steve Patrizi, the
head of partner marketing for the nearly four-year-old company. "So
for retailers, it's a no-brainer. Go where people are already
looking for things."
But as the title "multichannel" or "omni-channel" coordinator
might suggest, most major retailers are not linking themselves to
just one social media site.
Walmart is leveraging Facebook and Google. Toys "R" Us is pushing
hard on YouTube. Sears is on Instagram and hosting holiday parties
According to comScore, which collects and analyzes online data,
Pinterest has plenty of competition. Compared to its more than 43
million unique visitors in October, Twitter had 64 million, and
Facebook towered over its neighbors with more than 178 million
And while shoppers referred from Pinterest to retailers spent
more, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, those referred
from Facebook were buying more frequently. During a four-week period
in October and November, customers referred from Facebook spent an
average of $54.64 per order, compared with an average of $123.50 per
order from Pinterest, IBM found. …