Amazon is getting more social with the launch of Amazon Pages and Posts, the latest evidence that retailers have high hopes that the potential for social commerce can be realized.
But if numbers don't lie, it doesn't appear that the 2012 holiday shopping season will mark a coming out party for social commerce.
According to IBM's Benchmark Reports service, which tracks more than 1m transactions each day across more than 500 U.S. retailers, this year's holiday shopping season is off to a great start, with sales already up more than 14% year-over-year as of 3:00 p.m. yesterday.
But if early trends indicate what's to come, it doesn't appear that social networks will be playing a major role in the action. Well under a half a percent of the sales IBM tracked yesterday were driven by a referral from a social networking site. That includes referrals from Facebook, Twitter, and the social net many have the highest social commerce hopes for, Pinterest.
Mobile is the real deal
While there are numerous reasons why social networks apparently driving sales, and social commerce's biggest proponents might point out that social can influence sales in ways that aren't necessarily easily tracked, IBM's data makes one thing clear: retailers that haven't been paying attention to mobile are likely to lose out.
Unlike social, mobile's impact on the shopping experience is not in question. As of noon yesterday, more than a quarter of visitors to retailer websites originated from mobile devices, up from just under 16% in 2011. Leading the pack, not surprisingly, is the iPad, which accounts for almost 10% of all traffic. All Android devices combined are seen driving 7.3% of traffic.
Playing the trends
Needless to say, mobile is no longer optional for retailers. That doesn't mean that executives shouldn't be somewhat cautious; developing a strategy and targeting investments is the sensible approach.
The path forward vis-à-vis social is far less obvious. While the potential shouldn't be dismissed, IBM's figures suggest that retailers hoping to capitalize on their social efforts this holiday season aren't likely to get a gift from the Retail Santa Claus.