The popular platform for images and inspiration, Pinterest, starts to free itself more and more from its image as a social media channel and proceeds towards the title of a leading global visual search engine. The newest additions on this journey are more shopping solutions. Already established in 2015, Pinterest users were treated with a visual search tool that ever since then allows them to break a pinned image down to its single components. For example, users can use this tool to limit a picture of a living room to only the couch. Pinterest would then recognize this specific product and show different styling options and the product itself, which is very helpful if you’re looking for a specific piece and don’t know the name.

With some new features, Pinterest proceeds to head towards its goal as a visual search engine and offers its users more options to discover inspiring content and to turn this inspiration into a shopping experience or an incentive to try an idea themselves. We would like to introduce you to the three most important novelties.

Pinterest Lens: Discover products – find styles and ideas

The Pinterest Lens, which currently only works with English settings, offers users the chance to use the search function not only with words, but by taking pictures. If you’re on the go and you see something amazing, be it a pair of shoes or a tasty meal at a restaurant, you take a snapshot of it with the Pinterest Lens and it will instantly show you related products, matching styling ideas or recipes and similar dishes. This is especially helpful if you’re not sure about the name of the product you’re trying to find.


Right after taking the snapshot of the product, you will not only find matching images. The user additionally has the option to choose amongst a range of thematically suitable tags that will either lead to a more specific search result or to related products and ideas. With the Pinterest Lens, users can find targeted inspiration for specific products. Currently, this feature is especially useful when searching in the areas of fashion, food, and home – this is where you’ll get the most precise results.

Oftentimes we see things that we can’t really put into words. The new feature, which will be available as a beta version for Android and iOS, addresses this problem exactly. It will initially be implemented in the United States before introducing it globally later on.Alexandra Wilke, Pinterest Communications DACH

Shop The Look: A shopping experience, connected to inspiring images

The Shop The Look feature, which will initially only be available for the American market as well, directly connects individual pins with online shops. If you’re scrolling through your feed and you stumble upon a picture with small blue dots on it, it indicates that there are shoppable products linked to this image. By clicking on the blue dots, users will be offered several shopping options for the exact or similar products, offered by a choice of renowned online shops. Users then have the possibility to complete the purchase directly via Pinterest or to head over to the shop to add more products to their cart.

Currently, the connected partners (e.g. Macy’s and Neiman Marcus offered for example via ShopStyle and Refinery29) distinctively aim at the American clientele; but we can assume that with growing success of the Shop The Look feature, the range will be expanded and regionally adapted. We’re excited to see if Pinterest will keep the monetary profits of cooperating with online shops or if influencers will have the chance to choose the demonstrated products themselves and earn part of the sales commissions.

Instant Ideas: Related, inspiring ideas with just one single tap

With the Instant Ideas feature, Pinterest offers a more comfortable solution to find images that fit your taste and style in your home feed. Each user’s feed is oriented at their boards, the users they follow and the pictures they pin. According to these preferences, users are constantly presented with suggestions and recommendations for pins they could like as well. Until now, if we really liked a pin and wanted to find related images, we had to click on the image and scroll to discover similar styles underneath. With Instant Ideas, this is now so much easier: Each picture in the home feed is now equipped with a small circle in the lower right bottom. If a user wants to see more similar pictures, a single tap on the circle will lead to a couple of related styles to be inserted right there, pushing the rest of the home feed down. All we have to do is keep scrolling.

This feature allows users to discover more ideas and styles without ever using the search function or leaving the home feed. As new images are inserted right at the point of tapping on the picture, we can comfortably skip the new pictures once we’ve seen enough and keep looking at what else is new. We’re not interrupted in the use of the app anymore.

The individual home feed will be personalized even more  in the blink of an eye. Recommendations will instantly adjust to the current interests. Alexandra Wilke, Pinterest Communications DACH

Pinterest is gaining ground as a visual search engine

With these three new features, Pinterest facilitates the search function and offers more in-depth services by integrating shopping solutions. Shop The Look is especially interesting for online shops that want to connect their products with the successful platform as they can profit from inspiring images from millions of users. The concept of window-shopping will be brought to the screens of the users, no matter when or where they are. These new features help Pinterest to distinguish itself from the classic search engines where users have to work with terms. With Pinterest, a photo is now enough to make a targeted search for inspiration that matches the personal taste and is available on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.