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Pinterest President Tim Kendall: Fewer than 10 percent of images on Pinterest are buyable but that will soon change

Pinterest sees itself more as an ad company than as a retail outlet.

Pinterest President Tim Kendall onstage at Code Commerce 2017 Keith MacDonald
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Fewer than 10 percent of images on Pinterest are buyable but that will change soon, according to Pinterest President Tim Kendall, who spoke Wednesday at Recode’s Code Commerce in New York City.

“Only a small set of Pinterest users want to buy on Pinterest,” Kendall said. “A majority are still going to the retailer and the retailer takes the entire retail transaction. We don’t take a cut.”

The visual-focused social media site has long had Buyable Pins, where people can see something they like on Pinterest and buy it from the retailer while remaining on the site, but it has been slow to convert those to sales.

According to Kendall, that’s part of the way Pinterest sees itself more: As an ad company rather than a retail company.

“Brands are more willing to put an entire product catalog on the site, knowing that Pinterest is not taking a cut,” Kendall said. “The retailers that spend with us understand that purchases start on Pinterest.”

According to Kendall, 97 percent of searches on Pinterest are unbranded, meaning that people don’t go there knowing what they want to buy; they go to discover what they want to buy.

“We believe we have to give away value to make the ecosystem work between us and retailers and consumers before we start to think about reaping and taking value ourselves,” he said.

Nordstrom, Neiman and Tory Burch are the biggest brands selling directly on Pinterest.

Watch his full interview below.

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