Mobile shopping grows in popularity as social media sales lag

ARMONK, N.Y. — Retailers that want to grow sales and improve customer loyalty would be wise to invest in mobile shopping. According to a new report from IBM, retailers experienced 15% growth in sales from mobile devices. Conversely, sales traced to social media were down 20%.

According to IBM's Retail Online Index, during the second quarter consumers continued to embrace mobile devices as a shopping tool, with mobile commerce accounting for 15.1% of all online purchases, an increase of more than 14%. Despite this momentum retailers are still struggling to sustain substantial success with their social media efforts, evidenced by a more than 20% drop in social shopping.

According to IBM's State of Marketing 2012 survey, one explanation for social commerce's failure may be the absence of a CMO and CIO alliance, which is critical as marketing and online commerce become increasingly technology-driven. The lack of this alliance hinders the deployment of integrated technologies capable of fueling effective social media efforts. A second factor is marketing's inability to form a clear consensus on how to utilize social channels. As a result, the retail online index saw a decline in positive sentiment around social media, which according to the online index dropped from 25.1% in Q1 to 18.6% in Q2. Leading factors for this shift were the lack of deals being offered by retailers through these channels, which were more prevalent in Q1.

"Shoppers today are shifting from a singular online approach to a multi-channel experience that includes both mobile and social media. As a result, retailers must be prepared to connect with their customers on all fronts, or lose them to the competition," said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions. "As we enter the home stretch for the 2012 holiday season, we will continue to watch how CMOs and CIOs tackle these challenges and create social media efforts that deliver value to the customer while driving revenue for the business."

Over the second quarter, while online traffic and sales for Q2 were down 6.7% and 2.3% from Q1 respectively, there were signs of optimism. Specifically, for completed orders, shoppers bought more items (average items per order grew 2.6 percent) and spent more for each transaction (average order values for each purchase grew by 2.3%) over the second quarter.