Picnic pivots from ShopMyPins to help tackle Pinterest’s context problem

picnic appA new Pinterest application called ShopMyPins pitched at Portland Startup Weekend earlier this year was so stupid-simple it’s hard to believe a product doing the same didn’t already exist. The bookmarklet simply sits on your toolbar and anytime you see something on Pinterest you’d like to buy, hit it and various available online retailers will pop up.

Now the application has officially launched its alpha version, along with a new name. Now known as Picnic, the drop-and-drop extension surfaces a “Find It” prompt that then opens a separate tab with search results of where you can buy the respective item – and more. Creator Vanessa Van Patten tells me that while the idea was to originally only target Pinterest shoppers, Picnic is looking to operate on a broader scale.

“One of the main reasons we rebranded the product and took  away the word ‘shop’ was because we realized a lot of people just want to research or find out more about whatever image they are looking for,” she says. “With the alpha version we are keeping things as broad as possible to see what people are searching – if it looks like people want shopping specific pages, that is probably what we will do in the beta version.”

find it - yosemite
find it - hammock

Van Patten says so far, Picnic is seeing people use the “Find It” function for more than just shopping. Users are seeking more picture, recipes, and she mentions that art research seems to be a popular use as well.

Picnic seems to do a decent job of reading what your trying to find more information for and giving relevant outside options. For example, when I click tech products like cameras or strange gadgets, I mostly get news or alternative images for them. Selecting items like furniture or clothing mostly surfaces shopping results. Food, recipes. Of course it’s not fail-proof, and there are a handful of times I am looking at something I want to buy and use Picnic only to get a series of press releases and images. But the application is being tested and refined as we speak. And while there are a bevy of Pinterest plugins available, none of them have really focused on outside search yet. That’s sort of an important feature, given the fact that finding original source attribution has been a struggle for the platform.

But Pinterest is in the business of fixing this, routinely plugging away to make sure sourcing gets better. Still, Picnic brings some unique elements to table, like being able to search things visually similar to something you found on Pinterest. Time will tell if Picnic narrows its focus. But at the moment, this first stab at search for Pinterest raises some interesting ideas about how we’ll keep evolving this platform and the surrounding market. 

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