How Pinterest inspired Staples to change its strategy

Stephen Whiteside

Pinterest has transformed the way consumers share their wants and needs on the web; now, it is helping reshape the strategies retailers employ to sell products, both online and offline.

The social-media service utilises a tile-based grid to display the images its members "pin", either individually or in categories of their choosing. And Staples, owner of the second-largest ecommerce site in the US, and an additional 1,800 bricks-and-mortar stores across North America, certainly has taken note of its popularity and influence.

On the face of it, Pinterest – like most social sites – might seem to be little more than a sea of random activity, as users build "boards" containing images connected by anything from basic personal preference to themes like creating the perfect kitchen. Digging below the surface, however, reveals it is a forum that embodies a key online trend: the idea of curation.