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Tablets May Shake Up Mobile Commerce; Social Networking Has Yet to Do So

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Mobile Answers Featured Article

February 14, 2011

Tablets May Shake Up Mobile Commerce; Social Networking Has Yet to Do So

By Gary Kim
Contributing Editor

In a survey Forrester Research (News - Alert) conducted with Bizrate Insights in December 2010, 49 percent of recent online shoppers agreed with the statement: "I shopped in stores less because I shopped online instead," when thinking of their Thanksgiving shopping experiences, said Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research analyst. That roughly indicates the need for retailer attention to mobile commerce applications and behavior in 2011. To be sure, e-commerce and shopping have been increasing for years. 

But social media and growing acceptance of tablet devices might mean even-greater importance. In spite of the fact that the iPad was only introduced in the spring of 2010, it immediately proved to be a formidable driver of traffic through mobile devices. Many retailers report that already half of what they consider to be mobile traffic is coming through tablet devices. That is a huge change in just nine months, and suggests that larger screens do indeed make a difference, compared to smartphones as platforms for mobile shopping and other commerce activities. 

Though use of smartphones for purchases and information gathering has been growing, most such activity still is done on PCs. Tablets have the potential to shift much of that activity to mobile devices, albeit not to smartphones. 

Forrester Research is less certain about the quantifiable impact of social networks on actual behavior, though. For two years in a row, Forrester Research with has shown that retailers have all created presences on social networks, but most have been unable to quantify the return on this investment and even fewer have found that social networks grow their business. 

Perhaps it is not surprising that 59 percent of retailers surveyed by Forrester Research said measurable returns from social media activities have been unclear. In some ways, it might be more surprising that 28 percent of respondents believe social marketing strategies broadly have helped them grow their businesses.

To the degree that retailers find benefit from social strategies, it is most frequently said to be the result of consumer ratings and reviews on a website rather than activities on social networks. Also, survey respondents rank social networks 10th among a list of 10 customer acquisition channels. 

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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