Yesterday Pinterest announced Buyable Pins will be “coming soon” to Pinterest, meaning users will be able to purchase items directly on Pinterest without ever leaving the social network. This is Pinterest’s repeated attempt to get the attention of retailers to prove they are the only serious social media e-commerce solution. Is this a good thing?

The Past
If you’re a retailer you may have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. You can see the potential, but your numbers may not be what you expected. In a 2014 Social Media Trends report by Shareaholic, Facebook and Pinterest were the only social networks to drive incremental traffic year-over-year. Twitter, Google+, Reddit and the others were all in the decline. Yet, when you look at your pins, traffic and purchases, your gut says it should be higher.

One thing that helped retailers in the past 6 months was Pinterest banning affiliate links. Retailers had a problem with the massive number of affiliates sharing their content. Why is this bad? Because 1) their pins were getting lost in the sea of affiliate posts, and 2) if someone made a purchase from a pin, the retailer needed to pay the affiliate. This means if a retailer was also using Promoted Pins, they were paying twice on a purchase made from Pinterest. This was a growing problem for retailers and Pinterest. Removing the affiliate links from Pinterest was something retailers wanted so users would focus on their pins and not affiliates.

The Present
With the announcement of the Buy It button, users will be able to search, browse colors, sizes, models, etc. and buy directly on Pinterest. They’re working with multiple payment vendors to keep the user within the Pinterest experience all while maintaining secure credit card information. For the user, the experience seems very nice based on the images Pinterest released. It looks like butter. I repeat, butter. See images below or see their announcement here.

For the retailer, this might be a turnoff. Why? Retailers have been trained to own the relationship. They want the purchase and to manage the relationship. With the Buy button, they will get the purchase (cha-ching) but this could be a step in the wrong direction for retailers who have invested millions of dollars in building and maintaining customer relationships.

The Future
It might be the cool thing now, but I hope retailers take the time to think about where this could go if the Buy button takes off. If consumers start buying more on Pinterest, will brand awareness fall? It seems like it since the purchase is made outside their site. From the images shown, brand presence is at a minimum. In addition, will all other brand messages fall by the wayside? If the relationship isn’t with the retailer, will the TV ads, re-marketing and email still be effective? It feels like it might not since more time is spent on Pinterest and away from the retailers’ site.

The Pinterest Alternative
At its core, Pinterest is a bookmarking tool that collects items of interest for the user. When they want inspiration or are ready to buy, their collections are in one spot. Another option retailers should think about is, how to remind or notify users about the products they want.

At TrackIf, we help sites capture shoppers and the items they’re most interest in. Once we know the shopper and the item, TrackIf manages the notification to the user based on the what the retailer wants (out of stock alertsprice alertsnew product listings, etc.). Also, our newest Favoriting feature acts like a mini-Pinterest board that lives within your site. This means your own shopping site could store, remind and alert shoppers about the items they want to buy, without depending on Pinterest. There are alternatives.