What is ShopInterest, and how did you and your team get started in this field?
My co-founder Liang and I had been pursuing opportunities to leverage Pinterest. I have a background in eCommerce and had started to understand that Pinterest would be the perfect social network to generate sales. We started with a service providing Pinterest analytics, but afterwards, our users asked us for help generating sales, so we created ShopInterest as a way to turn any Pinterest account into an online store.
What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that ShopInterest would fill a void?
Social eCommerce is relatively new, but it’s definitely the next stage in eCommerce. The old eCommerce hubs such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy were created and optimized before social, so now people spend hours “connecting” their storefronts to Facebook and Twitter with hit-or-miss results. We instead create the store on the social network that brings buying traffic. Your store is social from the start, and it’s at the best place to be: Pinterest.
How does the retailer’s ShopInterest store fit within the existing Pinterest ecosystem? Can it work with an existing online store?
Yes, and most of our users actually already had a store but wanted to open a new storefront with better traffic. You can import your Etsy store with ShopInterest, or we can also do customized migrations. However, the easiest, most fun way is to connect to Pinterest and select the items that you have for sale from there. We cater to those who have or make products for sale.
How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize ShopInterest in the retail space to promote social shopping and product discovery as part of their eCommerce strategy?
Our users have already found some clever uses. Some retailers create “flash mini stores” on their Pinterest to focus on a quick event, like doing a clearance sale or introducing a new collection. Other advertisers create ShopInterest stores as part of a Pinterest contest or to introduce a new product for testing prior to launch. We have seen charity-driven sales and also sellers opening a store to sell digital goods. The advantage of being able to create a fully functional store in minutes gives a lot of flexibility to any user, whether they are a large retailer or an individual seller.
How can marketers quantify the value of customers promoting their purchases via social media channels and the ROI of such a social retail campaign?
Ah. Great question! I believe the answer is being worked in a million different ways. From my 10 years of eCommerce experience, I've seen the “measurement” of social media vary, and I don't think we have a final, definite answer just yet. My opinion has been to measure the incremental value of social — whether in traffic, sales or reach. Our solution offers a very clean way to measure the sales that Pinterest can bring to you, so there is no confusion of the benefits of a ShopInterest store.
How do you see eCommerce and social shopping evolving in the next three to five years?
I believe eCommerce and social shopping will fully merge, and the discovery process and the purchase process will be done “on the fly” versus waiting for a specific site or date to purchase. Our social networks will help us select, evaluate and comment on the purchases we decide to share. Our mobile devices will drive our access, and our social networks will influence our purchases.
Francisco Guerrero is an entrepreneur working on his 3rd startup, ShopInterest, which has been described as the “Shopify for Pinterest”. He has over 12 years of eCommerce experience from working with companies like Gap, HP, Intuit and other startups. shopinterest is backed by 500startups. You can follow him on Twitter @Guerrero_FJ. Francisco has an MBA from Christian Brothers University.