Hundreds of businesses have turned to social photo-sharing site Pinterest as a new way to promote their products and share ideas. Last week, Pinterest even announced several new tools to help businesses share more content on the site.
But as popular as Pinterest is, using it to convert followers into customers isn't always easy. Photos by individual users don't always lead back to a retail source. Even when they do, there's no clear path for potential buyers. There are no "buy" buttons and no indication that two clicks will take you to the photo source.
That's not the case will all photo-sharing sites. These three sites shorten the distance between you and your customers by combining the pinning action of Pinterest with the functionality of an online store.
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1. The Fancy. From a stingray inspired rocking chair, to Batman chocolate molds, The Fancy is a photo-sharing site for cool stuff and innovative gadgets. Unlike Pinterest, The Fancy has a clear shopping component. When users see something they like, they add it to a single shopping cart for purchase. Once they check out, the third-party merchants are notified of the sale and they each handle shipping for their portion.
Any merchant who deals in the unusual can apply for his or her own branded space on the site. Though it's open to a wide range of products, The Fancy primarily deals in high-end, luxury items, pop culture toys and gadgets.
2. Nuji. This U.K.-based site is unique because it rewards members with points for sharing product photos from online retailers. Points can be redeemed for discounts at one of Nuji's more than 50 partner stores.
Nuji specializes in boutique stores from all around the world. It primarily handles fashion and accessories but there are also a small amount of designer furnishings and art. Store pages are entirely user generated but once someone uploads an item from your store Nuji automatically creates a page, which you can then claim and customize.
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3. Olioboard. This interior-design site invites users to create 3-D "roomscapes" by dragging and dropping photos of furniture and accessories onto a blank canvas. Pre-loaded items are tagged with details and a ShopIt button that takes you off site to purchase the item.
Users can also upload their own photos or tag items from anywhere on the internet. Completed boards can be posted, shared and entered into Olioboard 's monthly contests.
If you're in the home décor business there are two ways to get involved with Olioboard. From your online store, you can upload your full line of merchandise onto the site for a flat fee of $250 a month. If you already use an affiliate program such as Commission Junction, Olioboard will forgo the flat fee in exchange for a referral cut starting at 8 percent. You can also promote brand awareness by sponsoring a design contest on Olioboard.
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