Pinterest Rolls Out Its Own Take On QR Codes: What Are They For?


Pinterest wants to be part of its users' shopping experience. So it's unveiling so-called Pincodes, or scan codes that work just like QR codes but are far more appealing and less obscure.

Those who shop a lot might have already seen these lying around. They're little signs that when scanned using Pinterest's Lens feature, take customers to a curated Pinterest board, where they'll find extra products and content. Expect these to show up on packaging and in ads.

Pinterest Debuts Pincodes

Pincodes are a way for Pinterest to reduce the friction involved in discovering content from retailers and brands, as these make up a huge percentage of the service. It's hard to gauge just how popular QR codes are in the United States, but Pinterest has a very good reason behind using it.

"In China [QR codes work] because when they see a QR code they open the app and scan it," search product lead Jeff Harris said, arguing that it's not the same stateside. "You don't really know how you're supposed to process it in the U.S."

Pincodes, he said, are a really good use case by contrast.

"You open up Pinterest and tap the camera icon. We had so many partners asking for it. They had all this online content already and said hey can you use the camera."

Users who have the Pinterest app installed can open the camera to scan Pincodes whenever they see one. This setup enhances the discovery element on Pinterest. Pincodes hit two birds with one stone: give customers extra content, and bring them closer to products from brands and retailers.

Pinterest Lens Your Look

Pincodes are now being released alongside several updates to Pinterest's visual search features. One of the biggest ones is called "Lens your Look." It lets users refine their search by supplementing it with a photo. For example, they can search for "hat," then take a photo of a tank top, and Pinterest will try to find hats that match that tank top.

Through that method, Pinterest is able to offer an unmatched, unrivaled cataloging experience, which, coupled with Pincodes, makes for a truly integrated Pinterest shopping ecosystem entirely dependent upon the app, making it an essential part of the whole process. It's really quite clever.

Pinterest says it's adding more than 5 million additional shoppable products to its library, which would bring the total to 60 million. This means that users will get accurate results and it'll be easier for them to find whatever they're looking for.

Pinterest debuted Lens back in February as a way for Pinterest users to search for clothes, furniture, and other objects using their smartphone camera. It was based off a visual search tool Pinterest launched back in 2015, and it says it's seen a 70 percent growth year-over-year with up to 300 million Lens searches each month. That growth certainly explains why Pinterest is focusing on visual search even further.

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