IBM: Mobile retail rises, social shopping sinks

Hot on the heels of a retail sales report from theCommerce Department showing a third straight month of declining sales, the latest Retail Online Index from IBM shows that total online sales were down by more than 2% from the last quarter.

According to the Index, positive sentiment surrounding social media dropped from 25.1% to 18.6%, something IBM attributes to a lack of consensus within companies about how to best utilize social channels. A failure of co-ordination between marketing and information teams “hinders the deployment of integrated technologies capable of fuelling effective social media efforts,” the report says. So, in short, a lack of joined-up thinking.

Furthermore, purchases stemming from Facebook and Twitter saw a 20% drop in the second quarter, painting a gloomier picture of the social shopping situation. IBM’s Strategy Director Jay Henderson remains optimistic, though, claiming that this period of social commerce should be regarded as the “awkward teenage phase”.

“It used to be the cute baby that everyone wanted to hold and ‘ooh and aah’ over, and now it’s a little more angst-filled youth,” he says.

Still, the report yielded some hopeful findings: while online traffic and sales for the second quarter were down 6.7% and 2.3% respectively, IBM found that for completed orders, shoppers bought more items (average items per order grew 2.6%) and spent more on each transaction (average order values grew by 2.3%) over the second quarter.

In further hopeful news, the same IBM report indicates that mobile shopping is on the up, with 15% of all online sales taking place via a mobile device, compared to 8% last year. This, the report claims, is due to the continued proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Interestingly, while the iPhone continues to reign supreme in the mobile retail stakes, Android has surpassed the iPad, scraping a 6.8% accountability for traffic, compared to the iPad’s 6.7%.