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Buyers Agree: Pictures Push Products Online

Retailers are that product pictures posted on social image-sharing sites such as Pinterest and Polyvore can also serve as  profit centers. . / Credit: Screen shot of Pinterest courtesy of Pinterest

Product pictures posted on social image-sharing sites such as Pinterest and Polyvore are more than window dressing or eye candy for bored users. Retailers are discovering that they can also serve as  profit centers as more and more consumers click through to product websites and make purchases after seeing pictures posted online, a new survey shows.

According to a March survey by Bizrate Insights, 32 percent of online buyers in North America have made a purchase after seeing an image on a social image-sharing site such as Pinterest, eMarketer, a research organization, reported. That includes 26 percent who were able to click through to the retailer from the image to make the purchase.

But there can be roadblocks. Discovering the product for sale is a challenge for both consumers and retailers, eMarketer said.  Given that consumers often “pin” or post photos of items from blogs and other user-generated posts, it can require some digging for the consumer to get to the retailer or source page.

[Four Steps to Putting Your Business on Pinterest]

One in 10 potential buyers had trouble finding the products they wanted to purchase, according to the BIzrate survey, and 6 percent had to look for the product on another site because clicking the image did not take them to a retailer.

Roadblocks aside, Pinterest in particular is becoming an ever-more trusted network for female social network users looking for recommendations, eMarketer said. According to February data from BlogHer,    81 percent of active female Pinterest users trusted the site for information and advice — even more so than Twitter and Facebook.

"As image-sharing social networks like Pinterest, Polyvore, Discoveredd, Fancy and Juxtapost abound, retailers and brand marketers should keep a close eye on user behavior, especially as it relates to click-throughs and conversions," eMarketer said. "Although still evolving, the social networks appear to be a burgeoning social commerce opportunity for retail brands."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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