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Pinterest attempts to lure shoppers with 'Buy It' button

The digital-scrapbooking site hopes its new "Buyable Pins" feature will finally bring it e-commerce success.

Pinterest's "Buyable Pins" feature will debut later this month. Victor Ng/Pinterest

Pinterest is finally delving into the e-commerce wars by unveiling a much-anticipated buy button.

The popular digital-scrapbooking site on Tuesday introduced its "Buyable Pins" feature, which will soon enable shoppers to purchase products directly off Pinterest by tapping a blue "Buy It" button and using Apple Pay or a credit card. Users will be able to choose from among 2 million "pinned" products, which will display the new button alongside the red "Pin It" button.

During an event at the company's San Francisco headquarters, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said the feature will launch later this month. The site is partnering with big-name retailers including Macy's, Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus, and relative unknowns like SOBU and Madesmith. The demand is apparent, Silbermann said, as 80 percent of Pinterest's 70 million active users access the site through a mobile device.

"Pinners have been super clear about what they want next," he said. "People want to buy things on Pinterest."

The new feature, which will be initially available on the iPhone and iPad and later on devices running Google's Android operating system, is the site's long-awaited attempt to become more of a shopping hub. According to digital research firm Millward Brown, 93 percent of active Pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 87 percent said they've purchased something because of Pinterest.

Earlier this year, the site -- which lets people "pin" photos, websites, products and other items on virtual boards for others to see -- began removing links to third-party marketing networks as a likely strategy to boost revenue. Pinterest is valued at $11 billion, with users saving more than 50 billion pins on the site.

The "Buyable Pins" feature comes about a week after Google announced it would be rolling out a buy button for mobile-search results. And on the same day Instagram announced it is adding buy buttons to ads.

Pinterest product manager Michael Yamartino said shoppers will pay no additional fees to buy products on the site.

"There's no fee for Pinners, and there's no fee for merchants," he said. "We've done this for two reasons. First, we want Pinners to shop with confidence, knowing that the price they see on Pinterest is the same price they find on the merchant's website. We want to make it easy and affordable."

Pinterest expects to make money off the feature by selling its promoted pins ad unit to retailers who could insert the "Buyable Pins" inside the ads, said Malorie Lucich, a Pinterest spokeswoman.

Update, 4:05 p.m. PT: Adds background and more details from Pinterest.